Two weeks ago, I promised that I would share another painful story with you. This unforgettable story is written in my book, Sheer Determination, Swimming Upstream in a Downstream World. When I was writing this book, I felt vulnerable sharing a story that I felt so shameful about but I forced myself to write it, hoping that it will help someone who might have gone through a similar experience.
Happy Halloween Day to you!. You’re probably getting your costume ready and/or your children’s’ costumes ready, you may be making last minute runs to the store for candy or you may be doing none of these things because Halloween isn’t your thing and you’d rather have a relaxing day and evening at home. Me? Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday because I’m the worst coward when it comes to ghosts and goblins. I have too many unpleasant memories of me shortly after I arrived to the U.S. from Japan at the age of 11. My cousins pushed me into the haunted houses on Halloween eve. It was especially scary since I never knew anything about this weird holiday called Halloween!
I was looking through my card deck early this morning and I saw this card titled, “SHARE YOUR STORY”. I thought the saying on this card is so appropriate for Halloween and I wanted to share it with you to get your creative energy going.
I’ve always kept myself from revealing my unpleasant experiences, even from my close friends or family members. I figured this is because there were so many things that were kept secret from me during my childhood years in Japan. The Japanese culture is engrained in “keeping things under the rug” and never reveal stories that are shameful or embarrassing. I started a new life in America at the age of 11. I even tried harder not to expose myself to the students in my school. I did a good job of not revealing things … like my step-father was abusive to my mother and so many unpleasant memories I had of living in a war-zone during World War II. I never told anyone that my Father who I never knew was killed in the Philippine Islands, fighting for the Japanese Navy. Keeping secrets for many years definitely took a toll on me. I felt like I was carrying a two ton sack of unwanted weight on my back everyday. One day, I decided to get rid of my load and spent the next two years writing my memoire titled KEIKO’S JURNEY. It was a hard book to write but fighting back the tears, I forced myself to write the truth. Writing my story proved to be the best thing I ever did. I was surprised when people from all over the world contacted me and told me their stories which they’ve kept locked-up in their hearts.
This is my wish for you today. Tell someone your story that you’ve kept in your head all these years. It can be a childhood memory or something that happened in recent years. You will be surprised how the person who listens to your story will open up and share his/her story too. A wonderful way to get to know the person better and you will build a relationship on a deeper level. Try it and share your story with me.
Coming soon… I will share with you a true story, “ONE OF THE WORST MOMENTS IN MY LIFE“
Have you ever been asked to do a project that could potentially help a group that you were passionate about? At the time, you were probably inspired to do something, but were also a bit hesitant because you were both excited and scared. Maybe you felt that same way when you thought about starting your own business. Or, possibly it was when you felt that you might be putting yourself too far “out there” by sharing your personal ideas in front of a group of strangers. Perhaps it was when you had second thoughts about picking up the phone and calling someone that you’ve always wanted to meet but were afraid to approach. I am sure you can think of many other instances.
In any case, my question for you is this: “What did you do in that situation?” Did you choose to follow through with your heartfelt inclinations or did you let an imagined fear hold you back?
Here is my story on how I punched through the proverbial scary tiger that growled and tried to block my way…
Recently, I was asked by my Score Business mentor if I would take on the planning and rolling out of a Women Business Owner’s Conference. This conference was badly needed and would be the first of its kind in our area.
She said, “Kay, this will get to the center of your passion. In the many years of building your own business, you’ve often told me that you are passionate about sharing what you learned with other women business owners of diverse backgrounds.”
I replied, “Yes, but it’s really intimidating to think about taking on something of this magnitude. It will involve one-hundred-and-fifty attendees with facility rental, speakers, corporate sponsors, and more!”
The more I thought about it, the more fearful I became. I saw the scary tiger that always seems to lunge out in front of me when I want to step forward and do something that takes me out of my comfort zone. What didn’t help is that I also recalled all of those days when I sheepishly succumbed to the tiger and let him scare me from moving forward. By backing down, I knew that I was running away from things I really wanted to do and considered to be important. Worse, I often went through months of feeling guilty afterwards about remaining on the sidelines and not stepping up.
Now I have a tool called, Magical Mindshifts card deck to help me realize that the tiger whose keeping me from going forward is only a PAPER TIGER!
Let me share with you some of the facts about women-owned businesses in our country and why I feel a conference to help women entrepreneurs of all colors is essential. I recently discovered an article entitled “Women Fall Behind in Business” at the Women’s Chamber of Commerce. After I studied the statistics, I was sad to learn that the numbers supported what I’ve always suspected:
Do you know that women own 36% of all firms and generate $1.4 trillion in annual revenues? However,70% of women-owned firms have less than $25,000 in annual revenues and only 10% have paid employees.
The obstacles women-owned businesses face isn’t just bad for women’s businesses but it’s especially bad for our national economy. Reports indicate that when women work, they invest up to 90% of their income back into their families and communities compared with only 35 to 40% for men.
As stated in the article, “The obstacles to growth facing women business owners are dramatically impacting their business revenues and profits,” states Margot Dorfman, CEO of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. “These struggles translate into massive opportunity losses for business owners, their employees, families and communities. It behooves every American to call upon political, governmental and business leaders to take action to open the doors to opportunity for women-owned firms.”
All of these thoughts and ideas have been ruminating in my head since January of this year. Fast forward to this September. It’s now happening! My team and I have been working diligently to organize, plan, and promote this exciting event that includes an Eileen Fisher Fashion show during the luncheon program. If you live close by, I’d love for you to attend and I guarantee that there will be a friendly PAPER TIGER to greet you when you arrive at the door! Don’t wait, purchase your ticket now.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the bright sunny days of summer. In the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with long days where sun doesn’t set until 9:30. I see this as an opportunity to get more writing done in the evenings.
Another thing I’m excited about is that I’ve been working together with seven smart and powerful women for the past six months. We met weekly and encouraged each other to create gifts that inspire, encourage and support our community.
Our gifts are done! I’m proud and excited to say that we’ve pulled together a great group of offerings for you to enjoy. We are offering them free for one full week (July 29 through August 5). You can find them here: Transform Your Life Giveaway
I really think you will love these gifts as much as I do. Whether you are an artist, a busy professional, a business owner or a person who is going through transition, you will find something that will delight and inspire you.
Here is what we have created for you:
1. Trust your Gut, 3 Steps to make more aligned and confident choices!. Learn to trust your intuition and feel empowered to follow your truth! No more waffling about decisions. (FYI – This one is mine)
2. Be Mindful, 7 Days To A More Fulfilling Life. Gain awareness & insight that will gently lead you to more peace and joy. The daily journaling prompts are powerful.
3. Re-calibrate: Client Attraction Made Easy. A step-by-step process to create an energetic alignment with your favourite types of clients. Do this and things will begin to shift for you.
4. Creativity Cure For The Cluttered Mind, Daily Focus Project. Say goodbye to frustration and overwhelm with this elegant and artful focusing project. This is SO unique!
5. Magical Mindshifts Workbook, Creative Ways to Ignite Your Inner Power. Got a giant to do list or nagging self-doubt? This magical mix of inspiring words, true stories and original artwork is the cure. (FYI-This is mine!)
6. Clutter Clearing Secrets: let go with greater ease and confidence . Avoid overwhelm, give perfectionism the boot and finally love your home again!
7. Transformational Pattern Buster Process. Don’t give up on your dream – there’s a way to SHIFT that pattern and it’s easier than you think.
8. Circle of Allies, A guided process to access intuition. Don’t try to figure it all out yourself, ask the Allies: The Leader, The Mystic, The Magical Child, The Shadow, The Lover, The Fool, The Wise Elder and The Warrior.
You can download each of these gifts free between now and August 5.
I believe that a powerful energy emerges when we learn to translate everyday words to pictures and new meanings. This is a skill that we need to learn to survive through our journey whether we are building a business or life that you love. Please view my video below.
The story I shared in my video came from my book, “Sheer Determination, Swimming Upstream in a Downstream World” Chapter 29: ONE STEP AT A TIME, WITH A STOMACH MADE OF IRON. Here it is for your reading.
One year, I attended a conference sponsored by the Small Business Administration. I sat in a room with 40 local business owners and listened to presentations on topics such as human resources, marketing, and finance. The shock for me came at the end of the presentation on finances. The instructor pointed to the four corners of the room and said, “Now, I want to see how many years each of you has been in business. Please go to your area as I call out the years.”
I wondered what he was trying to prove. I didn’t like being singled out and felt very nervous.
“Everyone, please listen carefully. Everyone who has been in business for three years or less, please move to this corner of the room,” he said.
Around 70% of the people moved to the corner of the room he pointed to.
He continued, “How many of you have been in business for three-to-seven years?” A hand-full of participants moved to their designated corner.
“All of the people who have been in business for seven-to-twelve years, go to that corner,” the instructor instructed. Only two people went to that corner. By this time, I was the only one not standing in a corner.
“The last corner is for people who have been in business for 18 years or longer. I see that only one person is left,” he said as he looked at me, “So how many years have you been in business?”
I was a bit self-conscious, but said, “I’ve been in business for 28 years.”
“Wow, that is a record-breaker!” the instructor exclaimed.
“Everyone, please give this woman a big round of applause. She is a survivor!”
I must have looked stunned, as the whole room clapped. People came up to me wanting to know my secrets for longevity in the business world.
That moment was when I realized that there are no winners in small businesses; there are only survivors. Many of the trendy, small business owners whom I had envied in the past, had gone by the wayside. And yet, here I was, still standing.
Now, when people tell me I’m successful, I always reply with, “I don’t know if I consider myself successful, but I know for sure that I AM A SURVIVOR.”
SURVIVOR: There are no winners in business or life, only survivors.
YOUR TASK: Define the meaning of success. Be willing to climb to the top of the mountain to achieve your personal goals.
YOUR AHA! MOMENT: When you reach the top, you realize how much you learned from your struggles and how much you wished you were climbing again!
Please send me your thoughts and ideas on the word, Survivor. Do you think you are a Survivor? I know you are.
Wow! I’m pinching myself over and over. Has it been year-and-a-half since I began working on this project? It took discipline for me to get up at 6:00 every morning and paint my wooden canvases with artful images. Simultaneously, I journaled meanings and stories to go with each artwork. How did each of the 62 painted drawings match up so perfectly with the words I chose for the card deck? Well, it’s still somewhat of a puzzle to me but it all worked out and I’m jumping for joy!
Tried and True… I took these cards on a trial run. I sat in a quiet place and chose one card, infusing the Magical Mindshifts deck with my positive energy. Lo and behold, each time I went through this ritual and drew a card from the deck, I received thoughts, feelings, and visions that opened creative pathways in my brain, leading me towards a new direction!
I felt like a whole new world opened up right in front my eyes! Can you see what I mean by looking at this poster I made? I swear this is so-o-o GOOD!
These treasured cards are “hot off the press” waiting to be delivered to your home. I always appreciate your feedbacks so please keep them coming.
Many thanks to my Editor Randy and Graphic Designer Tanya for the hours of hard work you invested into this project. Most of all, I want to express my gratitude to all of you. Your support and encouragement gave me the energy and determination to keep going during those moments when I felt like giving up. I hope you will find this card deck to be an important tool to help you achieve happiness and success in life and business. www.artfulgivingshop.com
On this Mother’s Day, My heart is filled with memories of my be-loved Mother, Mary Fujiye. She protected me during the chaotic years of World War II and the years after Japan was defeated. She fed my Grandfather and me so that our bodies were kept nourished while she deprived her own body of the nutrition she needed. As a result of her selfless act, her body was eventually attacked by the dreaded disease, Tuberculosis.
She courageously endured the abusive treatment she received from her husband and the people of Japan as they accused her of being an enemy of their country. It is because of her unconditional love and commitment she made to keep me safe that I’m able to enjoy my life in this great country, the United States of America. To learn more about this incredible woman and her journey, read my book, “Keiko’s Journey”.
P.S. – I would be honored if you can share with me a childhood memory of you and your mother. How did she show her unconditional love and devotion to you?
I had an interesting mentoring session last week with an owner of a small business. I listened to him intently as he shared about his business and when he stopped sharing, I asked him, “So how can I help you today?” He looked at me with an intense expression on his face and said, “Here’s my P&L. I need you to tell me why I’m always fighting with having enough cash in my business”.
After studying his P&L, I was surprised at the number of trip expenses that stood out on his financials in the last year. When I questioned him if all these trips were necessary, he replied “Well, I work hard for myself and I deserve to go on vacations. After all, this business is ME and I have to reward myself for my hard work”. Judging his defensive demeaner, I knew I would not get anywhere with him during this session.
At the end of the day, I thought hard on how I was going to get through to him. Suddenly, I rememberd the story from Aesop’s Fable – The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. I decided to use this metaphor to help him to visualize how he was robbing from his Goose. The Goose is his business!
Here is the story from Aesop’s Fabel:
A man and his wife owned a very special goose. Every day the goose would lay a golden egg, which made the couple very rich. “Just think,” said the man’s wife, “If we could have all the golden eggs that are inside the goose, we could be richer much faster.”
“You’re right,” said her husband, “We wouldn’t have to wait for the goose to lay her egg every day.”
So, the couple killed the goose and cut her open, only to find that she was just like every other goose. She had no golden eggs inside of her at all, and they had no more golden eggs.
I painted this beautiful and joyous Goose so I can show it to my client at our next meeting. I was happy to see that the Goose came out exact the way I wanted. I love how the Goose looks … so innocent and gentle. I will definitely look at this painting often to remind myself that my business is this Goose and I will protect and care for her to make sure that she will continue to bless me by laying her beautiful golden eggs.
Can you think of a precious Goose you have in your life? How are you protecting your Goose so she will continue to lay her golden eggs at your feet? I’d love to hear your Goose stories.
PS – This original painting is available for sale here.