Go After Your Dreams: An Interview with Noelle Sterne Part 1

SARAH L. WEBB INTERVIEWS NOELLE STERNE

Author of Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams

April 16, 2013

go after your dreams book coverHave you ever heard about something that you just couldn’t keep to yourself, something you just had to share with others because you knew it would improve their lives?

I had that kind of experience recently when I read Dr. Noelle Sterne’s book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams.

I’ve written before about how bitter I was about “wasting the best years of my life,” and Trust Your Life offers the perfect anecdote to that type of guilt.

And they say lessons come along just when we need them. I felt huge burdens being lifted as I read in her book about how to deal with toxic relationships, how to reprogram our thinking, and best of all, how to start living our dreams today!

So, I thought I’d give you a taste of Dr. Sterne’s valuable insight, and she was kind enough to spend a little time discussing some important principles.  It’s so jammed pack with wisdom that I had to split it into two posts. (Read Part 2.)

If you enjoy the interview, be sure to buy the book!

SLW: Hi, Noelle! How are you?

NS: Very well, Sarah. It’s a pleasure to be with you today, and I’m looking forward to our discussion.

SLW: I’m very excited and appreciative that you took the time out to answer some questions with me today.

NS: Thank you. Your questions have made me think. Your listeners ought to know that we are discussing my book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams, published by Unity Books. It’s available in paperback and various e-forms. In fact, it is featured in what Unity Books is calling their 2013 Summer of Self-Discovery, which is my book and two others from Unity Books on Goodreads. They’re having a discussion group and webcasts with each author here. My author page is also on Goodreads here.

People can go on Goodreads and they can go on Unity Online. Also, the three books will be available in a discounted pack. So, with that introduction, we’re talking about this book called Trust Your Life.

SLW: Why is it important for you to share your insight and offer guidance?

NS: It has been important for me to share the insights in this book and offer the guidance that’s there because first, I had the overwhelming and unstoppable desire to write about what I’ve learned. Second, I learn continuously myself from writing, and third, I have the hope and the impetus to help others through the insights and guidance, even though what I have to say or explain may not be for everyone.

SLW: Well, I know reading through your book definitely was for me. I was taking a lot of notes for me personally, not just for the interview and presenting it to the readers. Hopefully I’ll get to read the other two books in the Unity Series.

NS: Right. Let me just say what they are, and both are on Amazon. One is Native Soul by Doug Bottorff. The other is Living Originally by Robert Brumet. That is actually coming out mid-June. But presale is available now. Whoever chose these at Unity Books, these three are complementary.

SLW: On Page 79 of Trust Your Life, which is your book, you use the term “courageous confrontation.” In your opinion, what’s so courageous about confrontation, and what do we need to confront in order to live the life of our dreams?

NS: I use this phrase in the context of listening to our Inner Voice and acting on it rather than stifling our responses, especially responses of anger or pretending, or outright fibbing that everything is fine. The listening that I refer to can sometimes take the form of an inner shout, or a nudge, or an uneasy feeling, or a bad feeling. We know we haven’t really expressed ourselves. For many of us, especially women in our culture, expressing anger or disagreement is difficult. You may have experienced this too. We’re afraid, for example, that we’ll be disliked, or rejected, or worst of all, labeled b**** or PMS-prone. Men are not similarly labeled, but they’re often admired for displays of anger and aggression. So, even though women have made great strides in our society, I think it still takes courage for many of us to express ourselves fully and risk those perceived responses.

Another reason we need to confront is to truly express our inner resources and responses. If we don’t, we repress them. Repression leads to depression and illnesses. Most importantly, in terms of reaching one’s dream, repression uses energy that we would otherwise have available for pursuing our dreams. Now, I’m sure we all know women, especially, who do or say anything to help keep the peace; who smile, for example, when they should be screaming or weeping; who agree to too many tasks for others when they’d rather be home reading; and who, maybe without explanation and without anyone’s understanding, after years of a so-called perfect marriage, suddenly pack a bag and head out the door. I’ve read about things like that.

So, as I point out in the book, repression actually precipitates chemical, physical changes in our bodies. It affects our immune system and our enzyme and hormone production as well. Medical science today does acknowledge the role of repression and resentment in many stress-related illnesses, for example, and activation of cancer.

In this context, I recommend Louise Hay. I hope your readers are familiar with her. If not, they should look up her books on mind-body correspondences. She has these wonderful charts and discussions on how our emotions and our bodily manifestations, ailments, are connected. Then she has affirmations on dealing with and routing out any ailment at its source, which is our minds.

Courageous confrontation is a part of all of that. Expressing ourselves, even if it’s tactful, keeps us emotionally clean and without the proverbial baggage. Then, we’re not taking time and energy ruminating over a relationship, for example, who said what, why the other guy should be blamed. We’re using our time and energy to think more clearly and take the actions that will lead to the fulfillment of our dreams.

SLW: I think just that one answer can change somebody’s life, let alone the whole book and everything else that we have to talk about.

That takes me into my next question pretty nicely in terms of confrontation and thinking about the atmosphere that we’re in. In the book you use an example of a friend you call Greer to talk about how our surroundings might be affecting us. What can people do if they find themselves in an atmosphere that’s stifling them or that’s very negative?

NS: First of all, we can admit that the atmosphere is stifling. Sometimes we intend to smooth over. We say, Oh I guess it’s me. Maybe I’m hungry. Maybe I’m tired. Maybe it’s indigestion. I will say this—my husband has an uncanny and infuriating ability to sense when I am less than positive. I may be smiling and speaking sweetly, but he’ll announce that he doesn’t want to be around me until I change my attitude. Of course, it’s a little embarrassing for me (I can’t hide anything from him), but he can feel it in the atmosphere, and he’s not willing to tolerate it. So, we can take a lesson from him, much as it hurts me to admit it. He recognized the atmosphere around him and declared its existence, and he doesn’t want to be a party to it.

Now, what we can do otherwise, which he does sometimes, is we can remove ourselves physically, if possible. If not physically, we can remove ourselves mentally. One way is to fill our minds with positive thoughts—mantras or one-line prayers, whatever one likes. For example: I am unlimited. I am unbound by other’s judgments. I am free. I am loved. Anything that occupies our mind, and since nature abhors a vacuum, then we’re not being subjected to that negative atmosphere.

In the book, on page 108, I also list questions about how we can recognize people who project a stifling atmosphere. When readers answer these, they can see who’s keeping them down and how. Then they can apply affirmations. Maybe they can talk to the other person (that takes a little courageous confrontation), or arrange as much as possible and practical not to continue in the other’s company. As I saw with Greer and other friends, sometimes the confrontation may mean gently terminating the friendship. With family members, it may mean another kind of courageous confrontation and a declaration that you refuse to be affected by their often doom-saying, negative judgments, criticisms, never being satisfied, when are you going to get married, that kind of thing.

SLW: Another theme that’s huge in the book and is in the title itself is forgiveness of self and others. I’ve heard some people say that you can’t really forgive someone unless you fully restore the relationship back to its original state, or before the original “offense.” So, what do you think of that perspective?

NS: Well, you’re right. Forgiveness is a big part of my writing and a constant life theme. I’m sure I need it as much as anybody. I believe that forgiveness works like repression. If we don’t forgive, we hold on to the judgments, the rage, the gripes, and they sap our energy and affect our bodies too.

In relation to your question about restoring the relationship to before the original offense, I believe that really depends on the relationship. The original state may have been much less than healthy, a dominant-submissive or codependent relationship. Rather, I would say that we have truly forgiven when—now this is a toughie—when we no longer feel even a twinge of irritation, or better, we don’t even think about the person and his or her offenses.

I’m a student of A Course in Miracles, and it has two wonderful lessons on forgiveness in which you first catalogue all of the other person’s faults, and then you see that person in Light. In case anyone’s interested in the workbook in a Course in Miracles. These lessons are in the Workbook, Lessons 46 and 121).  They really are challenging, I must say, because to forgive really takes LOVE.  Readers may also be interested in the Miracle Distribution Center, founded to publicize and help the study of the Course.

SLW: Is it possible to forgive but no longer trust the person with your life, essentially, or with your mental, spiritual, physical, or emotional wellbeing?

NS: I think it’s possible to forgive but no longer want to or feel you must associate with that person, if that’s what you mean. The way you put the question, I don’t think it’s possible to associate if you no longer trust the person. Yes, it’s possible to forgive them. If you don’t trust them, the relationship won’t work, and it won’t be nurturing for either party, I believe.

Again I would apply certain lessons as in the Course in Miracles. As you can get rid of all your resentment and anger, you just allow the other person to be. You become neutral about that person. In a way, that may be the best touchstone of forgiveness. But you can also recognize that you no longer have anything in common with them. Their outlook may be stifling too, as it was for me, when I finally realized it, with Greer. Also, you may realize you’re growing at a different rate, but you can bless them for what they gave you in both positive and learning ways. I think of examples such as friends from earlier years that we all have, even family members.

Many spiritual teachers point out that people come into and go out of our lives for different reasons, and we’re supposed to learn from each relationship. Coming back to one of your major earlier themes, we’re supposed to have the courage to see what is healthy and optimal for us and take the right action. Sometimes this means terminating relationships or just letting them go gently. You realize that now a great friend from high school and you are on completely different wavelengths, and you’ve grown in a certain way and they haven’t, or vice versa. Sometimes though, you reignite the relationship, often on new and delightful grounds.

SLW: Alright. That does give us a lot to think about, as do your writings in general. And speaking of your writings, in Trust Your Life, there are a lot of practical strategies that people can use to gather the courage to confront, or to forgive, or to pursue their dreams. I’m wondering if there will ever come a point after reading your book where it’s not such a conscious effort and that it comes more naturally.

NS: We’d all like that, wouldn’t we? I think of the co-founder of Unity, Charles Fillmore, who wrote a wonderful little booklet called A Six-Day Healing Practice. It has denials and affirmations for each day of the week. In the introduction, he says that each day’s passage “is to be repeated over and over until it manifests its living presence and potency in consciousness” (Unity Village, MO: Unity School of Christianity, 1986, p. 10). So he recognized that it’s not a sudden snap-of-the-fingers thing.

I believe that the time for non-conscious, or not trying, to live with the principles comes by degrees as we continue to practice faithfully and regularly. Of course, this is not easy. Our minds and society have decided to focus on negativity and dire appearances. We may need much more effort and outright denials to continue to affirm and visualize. I’m sure you know too that it takes a lot of self-discipline, mental discipline, but the more we do these things, the more our mental habits change.


It’s like with meditation. At first we can barely concentrate. We’re into the to-do list, and thinking about food. As we practice and forgive ourselves for all the mental flitting about, we tolerate a few more seconds, and a few more. Then optimally, best scenario, it becomes easier to slip into that meditative state at will anywhere and without all the candles and cushions. So, I think that as we “leaven”—that is, raise—our consciousness with these tools, it does become easier to respond almost automatically to the positives we’ve learned.

Is it ever not conscious? Well, for Jesus and other enlightened people, likely. For the rest of us, I think it depends on our hunger for the positives and our degree of surrender to them in the face of opposite sense evidence. So, keep practicing! Keep practicing! Keep at it! I’m talking to myself too.

Stay tuned for part two of Noelle Sterne’s interview on 5/13!


Author, editor, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle Sterne writes fiction and nonfiction, publishing over 300 pieces published in print and online venues, including Funds for Writers, Pen and Prosper, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, ReadLearnWrite, Women on Writing, Transformation Magazine, 11.11, and Unity booklets.Her monthly column, “Bloom Where You’re Writing,” appears in Coffeehouse for Writers. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, for over 28 years Noelle has helped doctoral candidates complete their dissertations (finally), with a psychological-spiritual handbook in progress. In her book Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books; one of ten best 2011 ebooks), she draws examples from her practice and other aspects of life to help writers and others release regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. See Noelle’s website: www.trustyourlifenow.com. With Trust Your Life, Noelle appears in the Unity Books 2013 “Summer of Self-Discovery” on Goodreads with two other authors of positive messages for discussions and free webcasts here. Starting in May 2013, Noelle will be one of five featured authors on Author Magazine’s ongoing blog, exploring writing, creativity, and spirituality.


One Question after Watching 42

courage at bat 42He rubbed red clay between is hands when he stepped up to the plate.

No matter what they threw at him–racial slurs, death threats, or fast balls to the head–Jackie Robinson stepped up to the plate over and over again until he changed this country.

While most images of the Civil Rights Movement (which started nearly a decade after Robinson’s debut in the International League) show groups, often crowds of blacks marching, sitting in, picketing, and boycotting together, every day Jackie Robinson had to go alone, out there in the open arena, exposed to the world, one black man in the white field of Major League Baseball.

Though Jackie Robinson played the star role, a whole cast of characters also stepped up to the plate to help him round the bases, so to speak. This was, after all, much bigger than him, and it was way more than just a baseball game.

Rachel Robinson

First, I applaud the brilliant, on-screen display of love and friendship, passion and partnership between Jackie and his wife Rachel.

It’s by far one of the best depictions of a black couple in mainstream Hollywood, partly because their marriage is so central to the story, as it obviously was in real life.

At every home game, Jackie looked to the stands to find his wife. One smile, one gesture between them communicated more than other spectators could ever know.

She could’ve tried to talk him out of it. Told him that he was putting his son’s life at risk. Said she was tired of fighting alongside him. Complained that it was just baseball, just a silly game. She could’ve broken down. She could’ve left him.

Instead, she stepped up to the plate.

I’m sure she had her fears. Some of the death threats were serious enough to get the FBI involved. And of course there were the injuries on the field, intentional throws at Jackie’s head, but she never wavered.

Branch Rickey

The Dodgers General Manager, Branch Rickey, may not be a household name for the majority of us, but his role is undeniable.

He displayed the kind of courage I wish more whites had displayed throughout history. He didn’t wait for an opportunity to change baseball and ultimately the country, because he knew that the opportunity would never come. Someone had to actively create the opportunity to fight injustice.

He could have died saying I wish baseball was an integrated sport, but instead of wishing it, he made it happen.

Rickey gave more than the usual passive “support” for blacks. He did more than merely “not doing harm.” He did more than merely comforting himself with the notion that he would have signed a black player if he’d only had the chance. He did more than sympathize and feel bad about the whole thing.

Whether his motive was money, guilt, or fear of what God might say on judgment day, Branch Rickey took unequivocal, decisive action to integrate professional baseball.

We’ll never know if there was another player that Rickey could’ve called on that had both the skill and the courage to take on the challenge of single handedly integrating the entire sport of professional baseball, America’s most beloved sport, but we should rejoice that there was Jack Robinson.

I do. I marvel at the perfect alignment of Rickey’s determination with Robinson’s will and Robinson’s mental and physical preparedness. It was, as we say, perfect timing.

The “Team”

There were players who preferred to be traded rather than play with Robinson. Others remained with the Dodgers but never accepted him as a teammate.

But there were some players who seized the opportunity to prove themselves to be better men, and they were a better team for it.

There were many others, on and off the team, depicted in the film and not, who stepped in one way or another, like the sports writer Wendell Smith.

The Film

The first important thing about history is that it happened. The second important thing is that we remember it. Third, we must learn from it.

Foolish people insist that we forget the past in order to live in the present and move forward to the future. But it’s our past that got us to where we are in the present, and if we want a brighter future, we must learn from that past.

So, thank you to Brian Helgeland and the entire crew, to all of the actors, especially Chadwick Boseman, Nicole Beharie, and Harrison Ford.

I read a commentary that said that 42 might be a little old fashioned and safe for some audiences. It definitely lacks the firestorm of debate that surrounded Django Unchained, even though 42 does use its fair share of the “N” word. And In terms of its depiction of black characters, 42 infinitely outshines movies like The Blind Side.

I think the cast and crew of 42 definitely stepped up to the plate on this one and possibly hit it out of the park.

Now You

After watching the film twice so far, once with my siblings, and a second time with my mother, our initial reaction to some of the scenes was: This still happens!

There’s a line in the movie that sounds like something Rush Limbaugh would say: “This ain’t the America I know!”

It may not be in the field of baseball, but we all need to step up to the plate when it comes to carrying the torch for racial equality and justice.

We all have a role to play.

So I leave you with one question that Jackie Robinson’s character asks the Pittsburgh pitcher and ultimately asks himself at the end of the movie:

What are you afraid of?

Are you afraid to talk about racism because it’s so passé?

Is it too taboo in your circle of post-racial friendships?

Will it make you seem uncool or too uptight?

Will you alienate yourself from your family?

Are you scared that you’ll come out looking like the bad guy or the victim?

Is it too painful? Too frustrating? Too complicated?

Well, a bad thing won’t go away simply because you refuse to talk about it.

You have to have the courage to confront it.

What are you afraid of?

Courageous Travel: How to See the World No Matter Your Circumstances

passport for courageous travelGuest Post by Bridget Sandorford

Many of us dream of traveling to exotic lands, filling our passports with stamps from countries around the world. Some of us even dream of living in some of these countries, becoming immersed in the local culture and learning everything we can about the people and their customs.

Yet few of us actually follow through on these dreams for travel. We tell ourselves that we don’t have the time for it, or we don’t have the money. We keep making plans for “one day”–and then keep pushing back that day.

Living courageously means going after your dreams and doing all those things you want to do.

Most of the “obstacles” we see for our plans to travel more can easily be overcome. We just have to readjust our priorities and our perceptions. Here are just a few ways that you can travel more no matter what your circumstances:

Work Abroad

Perhaps the easiest way to see the world without impacting your finances or your everyday routine is to find opportunities to work abroad. If you have a college degree, you can find opportunities to teach English in dozens of countries around the world. However, if you don’t want to teach, there are many other jobs that may allow you to travel, including:

  • Sales representative
  • Diplomat
  • Customer service professional
  • Cruise ship worker
  • Entertainer
  • Translator

Even if you don’t have training in one of these fields, you may still find opportunities to travel with your current company. Talk with your boss about what may be possible. At the very least, you may be able to create a work-from-home arrangement that will allow you to travel and work abroad.

Volunteer

Not surprisingly, you may find more opportunities to work for free than to get paid for your work. There are organizations located all around the world that would be happy to have you as a volunteer — sometimes in exchange for lodging and other amenities. For instance, the group Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) helps place you on organic farms, where you can work for a few days or a few months in exchange for room and board.

There are many other opportunities, which you can research based on your interests. Some organizations may require you to pay a fee to get involved, but the money goes toward supporting the organization. Find what works best for your circumstances and your interests.

Get Free Lodging

There are many ways that you can get free lodging when you travel, cutting down the cost of any trip significantly. Couchsurfing.org helps you to find people who have a spare couch or an extra room that they are willing to let you stay on for a few days or longer. Etiquette suggests that you leave a small gift or offer to cook dinner one night, but nothing is required.

House swapping is another option. You can connect with homeowners in other countries and arrange to swap your houses at the same time. They come stay in your house while you go stay in theirs. Websites that offer the service help to screen participants and offer some level of protection.

Budget and Plan

Of course, the easiest way to make travel possible is to budget and plan. There are dozens of ways to save money on travel, including:

  • Comparison shopping for airfare
  • Booking your airfare, hotel and rental car together
  • Traveling in the off season
  • Staying at hostels and discount hotels
  • Packing your own food
  • Shopping at local markets instead of eating at restaurants
  • Buying advanced combination passes for attractions
  • Using credit cards to get frequent flyer miles for free or reduced airfare

There are dozens of sites online that offer tips for “travel hacks” that can give you even more ideas for how to save money on travel. With enough planning and some smart choices, you can make any trip possible.

Don’t keep dreaming of traveling “one day.” Live courageously and make the choices you need to make travel possible. There are so many options — it just requires that you adjust your perception.


Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching the best cooking school in the world. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.


The Courage to be Transparent

Guest Post by Vicki Ward

 

“I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.”— Maya Angelou

 

extreme closeup of asian woman wearing glasses; courage to be transparentNo one knows better than writers, the power of words.

How the right ones at the right time can blanket us with warmth like a good winter quilt.

How they can transform us,  pull at our heartstrings, make us laugh, make us cry.

How a good read enables us to escape to different worlds and broadens our horizons.

How the experience enriches us.

But being a good writer requires more than an extensive vocabulary, a gift to gab, and observance of some grammatical rules. Contrary to the hype, it’s not that simple.

Good writers must possess one other important trait: the courage to be transparent.

Being transparent means “going public” with the warts of our lives.  Like sharing stories of the stupid things we did for the men we loved before they left us, or lessons we learned from being fired, or dealing with demons of insecurity, or even fears of growing old.

Story lines that are written in all of our life’s “script.”

And this takes courage.

Putting our work before hundreds or thousands of readers means we must face the risk of rejection. Over and over again. Whether it’s the rejection of editors for articles we‘ve penned, sending out book proposals to agents to secure a book deal, or a blog post that may potentially bomb like the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

But we do it because our transparency not only allows others to see more of us, but to see more about themselves–and the human potential. It enables them to know that they can overcome some of the same obstacles, doubts, and disappointments we have. That regardless of race, sex, or religion, there is more that unites us than makes us different.

In the spirit of transparency (and celebrating the wisdom of women), my new anthology, More of Life’s Spices: Seasoned sistah’s keeping it real showcases the courage of dozens of women from all walks of life and stages, who reveal their personal journeys and invite you to come along.

Here’s a poem that’s an excerpt from the book:

 

Lo Gig

his game
a lo gig
sleeps with me
behind closed doors

walks
deliberate steps
ahead in public
once a brick house beauty
I suck back tears
remember tender youth
pour my brittle heart
into his arms   frigid   insincere

he
gives me bad sex   quick   painful
cops a crude dime and whine
for rent and cash
dines and wines another

thinks me
dumb and desperate
I  feel
dumb and desperate

bite my tongue as he
bites in his talk
until need rises
then

sweet in his beg
a gigolo
who belittles
and strikes
deathing blows
to my generous
but
closing hand

 


Vicki Ward’s essays and poetry appeared in several anthologies and collections. A former entertainment writer, covering live concerts, and stage plays, her literary focus shifted to writing books about women’s needs and concerns. She edited Life’s Spices from Seasoned Sistahs, an award winning anthology from the voices of mature women of color. She followed that releasing Savvy, Sassy and Bold after 50, a handbook for maturing women packed with financial, health, and retirement strategies for women reaching midlife. Ward has also presented empowerment workshops at women’s conferences and universities. Now retired, she writes full time focused on strategies to empower maturing women to navigate a new phase of their lives.

For more info visit her site at: Nubianimagespublishing.com