Naomi Hattaway, What Does It Feel Like To Be You?

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This is the third in my series of interviews in which I ask people, “What does it feel like to be you?”

Naomi Hattaway has lived and traveled across the world and throughout the United States. Her first international move was from the United States to India with her husband and three young children. From there she and her family relocated to Singapore before returning to United States where she has lived in four different states since her return.

Through it all, Naomi has been a community-building entrepreneur. She founded and ran a Facebook group for people experiencing international relocations, which grew to 15,000 members. Upon her return to the United States, she obtained her real estate license and opened an agency dedicated to helping families move from one home to the next, wherever in the world that might be. She also writes articles about her relocation experiences and gives talks and workshops.

About a year ago, after many years of traveling and entrepreneurship, she did two things she thought she might never do – she returned to her hometown in Nebraska, and she became an employee for the first time in more than two decades.

Knowing how wonderfully open Naomi is about her life experiences, I couldn’t wait to ask what it feels like to be her in this moment of transitions.

“When we moved back to Omaha,” she said, “which is where I was born and raised, I wrote a blog post about my home ownership journey because in my late teen years as a single mom I had a Habitat for Humanity house and I wrote in this article about how the full circle happened and how having the chance at home ownership when in was eighteen really set my family up for success.”

“The CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Omaha saw my article because she was also at Habitat Omaha twenty years ago when I had my house.”

After meeting with the CEO, Naomi was hired as Program Director.

“I felt honoured and valued when she asked me,” she said, “and it almost flipped when I actually started because I felt so overwhelmed and not capable and . . . impostor complex, oh my goodness, that came roaring out of left field.”

“I was homeschooled . . . and it was before it was legal in the state of Nebraska, so I didn’t get a diploma and I didn’t graduate and I didn’t get a GED until I was 30 . . . I’ve always carried around with me a ‘you don’t know enough’ complex and so I’m always an avid learner, avid reader. Podcasts, books, I’m constantly intaking, I think, to contrast the fact that I was never told by an institution that I had learned enough to go to the next step. And it sounds so silly to say out loud, but I think there was something with that when the job offer came. It was a respectable position, a respectable organization and I had never had anyone say, ‘I think you have enough value that we would like to ask you to join us’”.

I asked if transitioning from entrepreneur to employee felt risky to Naomi. It did. It still does.

“When you’re an entrepreneur and running your own show, you get to sidestep stuff all the time. You get to choose what’s comfortable. . . I liked to think that I took risks as an entrepreneur and as a business owner, but I don’t think I was. I was only taking risks in what I knew I could bounce back from or be successful at. This is making me see the other side of what happens if I don’t risk or what happens if I don’t show up in the workplace with integrity and as my authentic self.”

“So my risk is nine to five, in the Midwest, in Omaha Nebraska. Being here in my space right now is very challenging. To be back where I grew up, to be back in a place where I wanted to leave and never come back to . . . It’s almost like fitting myself into a box and figuring out how to still be myself is the challenge right now.”

At the end of our chat, I asked Naomi how she would describe herself in this moment. This is what she told me:

“I think that I would have you describe me as . . . a constant seeker of more information because I believe that when we know better we do better. I am an avid gardener, allergic to anything that relates to the gym, and massively in love with the things we can do that have impact on our communities.”

Looking back on our conversation, I am in awe of Naomi’s openness to new experiences and opportunities. She brings her whole self to each new adventure by embracing the events that brought her to this moment. What if we all did this? What if we valued the parts of our personal histories that made us who we are? What if we shared them with others? What if we recognized them as unlimited sources of wisdom and courage?

When I started writing this post, I thought it was going to be about learning how to manage new and unexpected challenges, but now I see that it’s about realizing you are already up to the challenge.

How about you? What challenges are you facing head on right now? Share your thoughts with Naomi and me in the comments.

Learn more about Naomi: www.naomihattaway.com | Instagram @naomihattaway and @therelocationexpert

 

Skye Boyle, What Does It Feel Like To Be You?

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This is the second in my series of interviews in which I ask people, “What does it feel like to be you?”

Skye Boyle is an arts and crafts adventurer. She finds creative inspiration in the colourful plants and animals surrounding her home in Southeastern Australia and in the wide range of materials she uses to make her art. Rather than limit herself to one style or medium, she follows her hands, heart, and imagination wherever they lead, embracing new projects and techniques along the way. As the founder of The Art of Greenskye, she has cheerfully chosen the title of Artist and Creator.

Skye graciously agreed to share her answer to the very personal question of what it feels like to be her in relation to her love of making art. In an email, she wrote:

“I've always found joy in creating but that questioning feeling always creeps in, is this good enough, what would others think of it, am I wasting my time and money. But I've recently stumbled onto a train of thought, to create not just for the sake of creating, but something that will help others too. In doing this, my spark has been ignited! The fears drop away and I'm floating through my joy as I create.”

“I've recently completed some Medicine Wheels, using mixed media, paint, resin, wool, crystals, thread, etc., which have brought me so much joy and in turn inspiration, and there are no fears associated with them, they make me proud of myself.”

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When I asked how her new projects help her fears drop away, she responded:

“These new projects that make me feel less fearful, I think it's because I loved every stage of it, I felt excited and happy in every moment, and then I was so happy with the outcome, that I didn't care what others thought. It's actually hard to put into words. It really is intuitive art, delving into my own feelings and then also empathy, with thinking and feeling of how it would/could help others, knowing that someone out there will benefit in some way. But then some stages I don't have control over, like with the fluid art, the paint will lay the way it wants to, I've changed my thought process to love the freedom of it, that it will turn out the way it’s meant to. To not focus as much on the outcome, but to fall in love with every stage of the process.”

I can’t help but be delighted by Skye’s description of how she feels while she’s creating – that she has identified her process as an antidote to her fear, that she places her trust in her own intuition and empathy to guide her toward meaningful projects, and that she feels proud of herself and a sense of purpose in the work she’s doing. I’m also drawn to the thought of finding freedom in the moments we don’t have control over, rather than fearing the outcome. I look forward to giving it a try in my own work.

How about you? Do you ever question what others will think of your chosen pursuits or worry that your efforts won’t be good enough? How do you deal with your fears? Share your thoughts with Skye and me in the comments.

Learn more about Skye: Facebook | Instagram | Etsy

 

Ella Rose, What Does It Feel Like To Be You?

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This is the first in a series of interviews in which I ask people, “What does it feel like to be you?”

It’s an incredibly personal question to ask someone (even to ask oneself), but what if it’s precisely the question that could help us understand each other better and connect in more meaningful ways? What if it’s a direct and authentic way to find common ground, by focusing on feelings we all experience?

Ella Rose bravely agreed to help me test my hypothesis by sharing what it feels like to be her.

Ella is a single mom of three awesome kids, a dedicated nurse with more than 25 years’ experience and the founder of the Liminal House, a website that helps people tackle decisions surrounding death. Her future plans include journals, retreats and fundraisers, which will one day fund the construction of a contemplative care home for those dying between the ages of 21 and 55.

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When I asked her about the feelings that accompany this current moment, as she juggles single motherhood, a full-time career, and her vision for reshaping the conversation around death and dying, Ella answered with five words:

Stretched

“I always feel like I have to either improvise or improve or manipulate … in important projects and in my life.”

Guided

“All of us, if we’re listening, we’re guided . . . Sometimes it’s louder than others, but you know it’s there. You choose whether to listen.”

Hopeful

“I refuse to feel defeated. Even if it’s something heavy, there has to be an upside. But you have to recognize it and hold onto it. Miracles still happen, but people don’t recognize them. They’re in the little things.”

Liminal

“It means being in between. In between life and death. As a single mom, working full time, looking for a new job, I’m constantly on a seesaw. It’s hard. It can be scary. It can be challenging, but it stretches me to look at other options.”

Real

“I think I always say what I feel. This is something I’ve had to work on. Why do we lie? We’re afraid. What am I afraid of? Because that’s what’s holding me back. We have to be more real with each other.”

In Ella’s hopefulness, I see parallels in my own life. My hopefulness is also rooted in the little things, in recognizing and holding onto moments that carry me through difficult challenges. I also identify with the double-edged experience of being stretched. It feels like there’s never enough time or resources, but it’s precisely the lack of time and resources that pushes me to stretch myself in new and constructive ways. It’s fascinating to me to see the balance Ella brings to this moment – between feeling stretched and stretching herself, in her hopefulness grounded in reality, and most of all in choosing the in-between, the liminal, as the place to fulfill her vision for helping others in their most difficult moments.

How about you? Have you ever experienced any of these feelings in the midst of new projects in your life? Share them with Ella and me in the comments.

Learn more about Ella: Website | Facebook | Instagram