Last week I wrote about the power of your story in anticipation of meeting 12 women for The Power of Your Story event I was hosting. All of the women were truly amazing and I would love to write about each one of them. Today, with her permission, I will tell the story of one of them.
Patricia Alcivar is the most inspiring women I’ve ever met – and I’ve known a lot of inspiring women. She is an incest survivor and left her family to live on the streets of NYC when she was 15 years old. She developed a friendship with a trainer who became the first person to believe in her and her talents and taught her to box.
She worked hard and eventually made it to the first ever Women's National Amateur Boxing Championship. She says, “I had just come from a recent loss at the NYC Golden Gloves when I really should have won. It was a complete robbery, but my trainer taught me the valuable lesson of never ever giving up no matter what. We trained harder and went to the Nationals and fought each of the 3 opponents with skill and determination to get me into the finals.”
For the final championship match she was paired against Leona Brown (better known as “Little Tyson” for her sheer ruthlessness), who had just won every one of her previous matches in this competition with a knockout. Patricia’s friends could barely hide their concern for her safety and doubt for her ability to win.
At the weigh-in her opponent “talked trash” about her and even shoved her, but Patricia remained calm. As her friends complained and criticized the other player’s behavior, Patricia felt calm and centered. She didn’t know where her clarity came from, but she told her friends with utmost confidence, “Don’t worry. I got this.”
And she did. She handily beat “Little Tyson” with her skill, talent and extraordinary determination. That performance led her to be the first woman in history to be voted athlete of the year by the USOC (United States Olympic Committee). Patricia is currently training as a professional for the world championship title. My money is definitely on her to win it.
Patricia’s story is a profound testament to what can be achieved when you realize that negative events and circumstances don’t define you, but you define you. You always have the ability to choose your response in any situation.
But what if you don’t feel you have Patricia’s level of determination to achieve your goals and dreams? What can you do to develop the ability to choose your response and define your story for yourself?
The answer is simple, though it can be tough to put it into practice. You can become aware of your inner voice.
When you heed your inner voice (or what some call a “gut feeling”), you strengthen your intuition – your best guide to creating a life you love. And when you honor your intuition, your awareness will change in a myriad of amazing and unexpected ways
If you listen to it, your intuition will first make you aware of an astonishing number of so-called coincidences. Things will start to “fit” in ways you never dreamed they could. Soon these coincidences will seem less like coincidences and more like signposts—turning points in the road to a desired destination, whether or not you know what that destination is. And then, after a while, you will experience life as a constantly unfolding miracle in which everything you need is ready at hand right when you need it—and sometimes even before you know you did.
That’s not to say that you’ll enjoy everything that happens, just that as time goes by the challenges and crises of your life will come to seem like the necessary training for the challenges you must confront on the way to your best life.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is that, if you give your challenges the proper attention, they can help you focus on what you do want. Three months after my son was born I felt I needed to return to work. My work as a midwife required that I spend 24-hours shifts in the hospital and I didn’t want to be separated from my nursing infant for such extended periods of time. When I thought the financial necessity of returning to work required an unwanted separation from my child, I felt awful – I knew I didn’t want that.
The realization of what I didn’t want helped me form the desire for what I did want: I decided I would work in the hospital and bring my son with me. At the time it was absolutely unprecedented for a mother to bring her baby to work, and I had to work hard to convince the administration of its feasibility, but I did it and my child (and my husband who cared for him while I was seeing patients) came to work with me for over a year and a half. And I have to say that it wasn’t easy to juggle caring for my own child and caring for my patients, but it was worth it. Just like drawing something by drawing the space around it, you can find out your best life by paying close attention to your feelings—especially the ones you don’t want, or don’t feel you have a right to listen to—as you observe the life you have.
More importantly, though, your intuition can find in the challenges of your life all the evidence you need that you’re ready for something greater. As I wrote in my Providence Moves article, almost 10 years ago I knew I wanted more from my life but it took a little while before I figured out that it was living and working in remote Mexican villages. Did this seem impossible for a while? Yes. Was I scared to commit to that path? Absolutely. But as I looked at a life that was otherwise satisfactory I felt such a strong sense something was missing that I saw how much greater the life I really wanted was, and that if I chose, I could make it happen.
It may take some time before you hear it, too, but when you finally get the big thing your inner voice is trying to tell you, you will also hear it say, “Don’t worry. I got this.” It may be too small for you to hear it easily. It may be crowded out by all the other messages competing for your attention. But you can become aware of it. And using its wisdom is a great way to create your own powerful story.
But what do you do about those competing messages? What can you do to meet the challenges with openness for what they have to teach you about your life and what you most want? As I said, it takes some practice. But practicing your intuition is a lot more straightforward than you might think.
Try this exercise: take five minutes today (and every day from now on) and find a comfortable, quiet place to sit and think.
During this time think about what has happened in the day that most challenged you and ask, “What was that supposed to teach me? Can I find what was good and necessary about it?”
Then allow your intuition, your quiet inner voice, to offer the answer. When the 5 minutes is up, write your thoughts down. If you do this every day you will be astounded by how many people and situations show up in order to give you answers. More and more you will hear your inner voice saying, “Don’t worry. I got this.”
P.S. If you want to see phenomenal pictures of Patricia, Google her or go to Facebook and ask to be her "friend" - she's super friendly and I know she would love to know that you enjoyed hearing some of her story. (If you haven't already, "friend" me, too!)