Living My Life Like It’s Golden

In many ways it was my spiritual journey that led me to a 9-month coaching certification training in 2006. There was a longing in my soul for more meaning and depth of connection than I was finding in my corporate job and on the soul-crushing quest to attain the “American Dream.”

I felt a deep desire to connect with my ancestral African roots, to live more in harmony with nature and with much more simplicity, and to connect with others in a rich, trusting community where I could explore my true calling and also show up authentically – flaws and all.

The training, with its mind, body, soul and spirit approach to coaching felt right to me intuitively, and joining led me on a path of transformation that I couldn’t have anticipated at the time.

Three recording artists have songs that speak deeply to my growth experience as a coach: Rachel Bagby’s I Am a Full Woman, India Arie’s Break the Shell, and Jill Scott’s Living My Life Like It’s Golden. Each in its own way contributed to who I’ve become, what’s deeply important to me, and the impact I choose to have in the world.

As a “full woman,” I define my truth and purpose rather than jumping through the hoops that others define and create. I honor the fullness of my African ancestry and the resilience and sacrifices of my African-American ancestors, and I serve my communities in ways that bring social injustices to light as we work for social change.

As a full woman with social consciousness, I can shed light on food quality and access issues, educational disparities, criminal justice issues, and more that adversely impact underserved communities. At the same time, I can also support people to access the power that we do have to co-create and advocate for changes that improve the health and well-being of our communities.

From Break the Shell, India Arie reminds me that “shadows make you whole” and that if you listen to the lessons of the shadows and the pain “you’ll find the gold.” She goes on to say:

Child it’s time to break the shell
Life’s gonna hurt but it’s meant to be felt
You cannot touch the sky from inside yourself
You cannot fly until you break the shell.

This is my personal journey, and I wonder if it is yours too. We feel the fullness of our feelings, learn from them, transform our limiting beliefs, heal the old wounds, break through the shells that hold us back, and then learn to fly.

Flying does not mean perfection and that all is wonderful. It means that we get to define success for ourselves. We get to do what’s needed to honor our values and get our needs met. It means feeling the fear and also embracing our courage to take the next truly meaningful step(s). And it means living authentically while also making a difference in our families, our workplaces, our communities and in the world.

To me this is what it means to live my life like it’s golden, and it feels so much more alive and empowering than chasing the elusive “American Dream.”  Coaching equipped me for this path of fulfillment and joyful living, and I love teaching and supporting others to do the same! What does living your life like it’s golden mean to you?

Answering the Call: Destined for Something BIGGER

Orange Sky

“If you feel insignificant, you better think again. Better wake up because you’re part of something way bigger.”


In 2019 Beyoncé released a song called “BIGGER” on her Lion King: The Gift album. A powerful song, “BIGGER” became my mantra after first learning of it in a sermon my pastor preached. The song is a testament to the power of human potential, the power to challenge and rise above societal limits, and also to the power of coaching.

During the sermon, the pastor, stepped into and out of a small, blue plastic box to make her point: we often resign ourselves to living in the too-small boxes that cultural and institutional norms ascribe to us based on our particular identities when deep inside of ourselves we know we are destined for more – for something much BIGGER. For most in our congregation, she was speaking to our identity as people of African descent; however, her message, like that of Beyoncé’s goes much further, encompassing the many intersecting identities most of us have – many of which have been ascribed lower levels of power and access, and at times even safety. 

As I sat listening to the sermon, my mind was immediately drawn to my own life and the ways in which I’ve allowed myself to be limited during my lifetime by what others thought I could/couldn’t be or should/shouldn’t do. I thought about limits placed on me due to my race and gender, and I thought of others who are limited by level of education, economic status, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, age, self-doubt and more. My mind was also drawn to the culturally diverse classrooms where I co-led 9-month coach certification trainings that combined a mind, body, spirit approach to coaching with a deep awareness of the cultural dynamics of power, privilege, rank, race and oppression. Our intent in the program was to support students to experience their own transformation while they learned to support others to shine light on the beliefs and norms that limit their full potential and then take steps to transform the negative impact into positive and empowering change at personal, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels. In “BIGGER,” Beyoncé shares:

If you feel insignificant, you better think again

Better wake up because you’re part of something way bigger

You’re part of something way bigger…

Bigger than you, bigger than we

Bigger than the picture they framed us to see

But now we see it

And it ain’t no secret, no

Understand that truth ‘bout that question in your soul

Look up, don’t look down, then watch the answers unfold

Life is your birthright, they hid that in the fine print

Take the pen and rewrite it

Step out your estimate

Step in your essence and know that you’re excellent


Each time I hear those words as I replay the song, I smile. It feels like a call to wake up – a call to action. So much truth and power in those words for me as a life coach and as a Black woman! Many of us come into coaching or other service work feeling too small, even insignificant. “Me? Can I really make a difference?” I know that was true for me, and I’ve heard it from many of our coaching students each year. And yet, somewhere deep inside we hear a call or feel an urging that not only can we make a difference, WE MUST! We are part of a bigger picture.

Despite our Western norms of rugged individuality, striving, competing, strategizing, and achieving while leaving others behind, we know there is more. We can move beyond, “the picture they framed us to see.” At some level, we know, as Mufasa says in The Lion King, “We’re all connected in the great circle of life.” We remember the ways of indigenous ancestors who worked collaboratively with each other and in harmony with the earth. Those ancestors knew that everything is connected and they worked with the whole instead of isolated parts. We can reclaim that knowledge and integrate it into our ways of being and living today, creating harmony rather than separation and divisiveness.

As coaches we support people to access and deeply listen to that voice within – to access the wisdom of our bodies. We mesh soul and spirit awareness with concrete coaching skills and cultural awareness to help people step out of small boxes and into a fuller embodiment of their personal and collective power. We move beyond the limits we’ve been conditioned to believe and see and into our birthright and potential to make a unique contribution to our families, communities, organizations and beyond. In Beyoncé’s words, I hear her urging us to, “take a pen and rewrite it.” In other words, to:

  • step out of the box or our “estimate” (the assessment and limits that others place on us)
  • step into our “essence” (our full authentic gifts and voice), and
  • know that we’re “excellent” (standing confidently in our truth and purpose – ditching the self-doubt and diminishing the power of our internal critic that holds us small).

The simple command, “Rise,” says it all. It is not enough to know it and accept it. There is something about the word, rise, that aligns with the way we, as coaches, call out or call forth the power we see budding in those we support: “Rise.” It’s an action word. Stand tall and go forth into the action that is aligned with your purpose, destiny and values. No more playing small and holding back. “Rise” and step out of the box. “Rise” and step beyond perceived limits. “Rise” and become an unstoppable force for change. “Rise” and make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. “Rise.”

Beyoncé goes on to say:

I’ll be the roots, you be the tree

Pass on the fruit that was given to me

Legacy, ah, we’re part of something way bigger…

Let love be the water

I pour into you and you pour into me

There ain’t no drought here

Bloom into our actual powers

I’ll be your sanctuary, you just don’t know it yet

You just don’t know it yet

No matter how hard it gets

You got my blood in ya

And you’re gonna rise

You’re part of something way bigger

I find this section of the song especially moving! We are not alone on this journey. The roots of our ancestors allowed us to become trees and bear fruit. Our roots allow others to become trees and bear fruit. It is a cyclical process – a generative one. One that gives life continually rather than destroying life, confidence and ability. The pouring of love and positivity into another is nourishing water. It is the way of a coach.

There ain’t no drought here,” speaks to the limitless potential of that loving water that nourishes. Love is not a limited resource, despite the fear and hatred in the world and what those who espouse it would have us believe. There is no fixed pie of resources. While fear frames a picture of “not enough pie for all, and let me make sure I have enough for me and mine,” the water of love – the pouring of love into one another – paints a very different picture. One of collaboration, shared resources, co-creation, bridging, supporting and working together for positive change. “I’ll be your sanctuary…no matter how hard it gets.” Sanctuary is what we offer as coaches, and it is not limited to coaches. It’s available for each of us to offer to others.

If you have not heard the song “BIGGER” by Beyoncé, I encourage you to listen to it and become inspired by it today. It speaks so deeply to the journey I’ve taken from feeling insignificant to:

  • Stepping out of my estimate (the too-small box of societal beliefs about me and my potential, the institutional limits placed upon me, cultural warnings to keep me safe, and my own limiting beliefs and internalized oppression)
  • Stepping into my full essence as a Black woman (mother, partner, coach, social change catalyst)
  • Knowing that I am excellent, which for me means I am Enough (being and giving my best; no need to compare myself to others anymore)
  • Rising and taking action – reaching backwards, forwards and to the sides as a force for healing and social change.

I hope you will still be inspired by the song to step into the BIGGER life you are destined for! Remember: “Let love be the water.” We’re part of something way BIGGER! Thank you, Beyoncé!

Dream Big

To do the impossible, first see the invisible

There’s a quote I heard the other day, “Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible.” I don’t know the source of the quote but it’s message stood out for me. Later, I read the following quote by Paul Hawken in the wonderful book, “Walk Out, Walk On” by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze:

“Forget that this task of planet saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.”

— Paul Hawkens

Both quotes speak to the power of visioning and to the ways in which our points of view can either empower us beyond belief or limit us until we stand paralyzed. Innovators, pioneers and social entrepreneurs choose the path of envisioning and hold empowering viewpoints that bring what some see as impossible into reality.

So…what’s possible for communities and families when we begin to dream bigger dreams? When we hold onto the view that we can collaborate to create the change we want to see? When we really begin to believe that each of us has the power to make a difference – especially when combined together?

I’m discovering people around the world who stopped waiting for top down solutions to problems and are joining together at the grassroots level to brainstorm and implement innovative and creative solutions to large scale community problems. They are sharing ideas and knowledge, foregoing rigid hierarchy, daydreaming and playing together, exploring possibilities, connecting and collaborating, and getting the job done! They’re replacing competition and hierarchy with collaboration, shared knowledge and shared power.

Equally exciting are the collaborative tools and processes that support this work like the circle meeting format used by indigenous people or Open Space and World Cafe formats that engage large numbers of people. In these types of forums, the viewpoints and ideas of all who are impacted are invited and valued. Everyone is engaged in looking at old challenges through the lenses of new and empowering questions, creativity and collaboration – asking what do we really want and need, what can we create together and how will we get it done? So…

  • What’s the biggest dream you can imagine that can impact your life and the lives of others in your family and/or community?
  • What’s possible if you really believe you can be a part of creating the change you want to see?
  • Who will you connect with to explore the possibilities?

Where Will Your Vision Take You This Year?

The beginning of the new year is a great time to create or update your vision for your personal or professional life! If you have a vision, how compelling is it? Does it make you want to jump out of bed each morning ready to take one or two new steps to bring it into being? What does your ideal life look like? Find a quiet moment, close your eyes and really begin to visualize it. What do you see? Who is there with you? What are you doing? What does it feel like to be there?

Our thoughts and feelings create our reality, and visioning is a powerful tool to set the ball in motion! How about getting your vision out of your head and onto paper where it can really inspire you each day? Do you love to write? If so, write out your vision in detail making sure it’s a 10 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.

Are you more of a visual person? If that’s you, consider creating a vision board and hang it where you can see it each day. There are two ways of creating a vision board that I’ve used and recommend.

vision board

A sample vision board

  1. If you have a clear vision in your mind, look for words or images in magazines, greeting cards, book covers or on the web that illustrate the various parts of your vision. If they are too large, reduce them on your color ink jet printer/copier. Collect them for a period of time (hours, days, weeks) and then assemble them on a poster board or mat board making an exciting collage.
  2. If you don’t have a clear vision, use this second method of creating your vision board. Gather a number of magazines (try for some variety) and spend some quiet time flipping through the magazines. When an image or word or color catches your attention, tear it out and collect it in a pile. It could be the color yellow, a bird, a dog, a person, a type of food, a material object or words like “live your best life” or “dream big.” The important thing is not to think about it. Just tear out whatever catches your attention without stopping to consider why. After you’ve collected a number of these images, take some time and glue them on a poster or mat board – letting your intuition guide you about the arrangement and layout. If you want to get playful add cloth swatches, stickers, feathers, glitter or ribbon wherever it feels right.

Vision boards seem to have a magical quality. It’s as if you are calling the contents of them into being. Like they are your prayer – your request from your heart that you are asking to be fulfilled. Many people, including me, have found that that vision boards become reality – often within the year they are created.

What do you have to lose? How about starting to collect your images today? What would your life look like and feel like if your vision became a reality in 2012? Let me know how it goes for you.