Her Own Way: Creating an Authentic Life

It's like having a mentor in a book.

What should I do with my life? How can I make a difference? Where do I fit in? And how do I begin?

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If you are a college woman or recent graduate, chances are you are already exploring these and other big life questions. While they may not have easy answers, much of what you seek is within you if you just slow down long enough to look deeply within your heart. Other answers will come as you embark on your journey.Her Own Way can help you explore these big questions and begin that journey—to make decisions based on your own nature, values, passions, and dreams.

The book provides insight and encouragement, as well as journaling prompts and creative exercises to help you take the first steps toward realizing your potential, tapping your talents, becoming your best self, and living authentically. You’ll begin to develop a creative mindset for navigating the unfamiliar, yet exciting places your life will lead.

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BOOK FEATURES

  • Thought-provoking essays laced with personal stories.
  • Prompts for writing in your journal.
  • Creative exercises and creative problem-solving tools for exploring life’s big questions in new ways.
  • Insight and encouragement from successful women of all ages.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“It’s as though the author is sitting right beside me having a conversation.” — Whitney Cochran, interior designer/recent graduate with master's in interior design

“I appreciated the emphasis on journaling and the creative exercises given to prompt thoughts and ideas. There are no right or wrong answers and the open-ended questions relate to college life.” — Peyton Owen, college student

“I think we learn the most from the stories of others. I like that the author shares her own experiences, as well as those of other role models. The words of encouragement from the women interviewed feel personal.” — Heather Wilson, recently retired college dean of students

"I ordered the book on Amazon and love it! Although I’m well past the age of the target market, I think it really has something for all ages in it. Well done! It will be my new go-to gift for college grads and advisees."  Christi Slizewski Tennyson, collegiate experience volunteer for national women's fraternity

I highly recommend this book to any woman who finds herself struggling over what to do in the future or wondering about her authentic self. It has activities that help you really hone in on what inspires you, what your talents are, and how to pursue your goals creatively!"  Alison Sellers, graduate student

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

On Keeping a Journal

THE AUTHENTIC LIFE


  • The Path to Authentic Living
  • On Becoming Your Best Self
  • Finding Your Voice
  • Appreciating Your Differences
  • Living a Values-Based Life
  • Honoring Your Temperament

LIVING WITH PASSION


  • Daring to Dream
  • Exploring Your Passions
  • Embracing Your Inner Wild Woman 
  • Understanding What Compels You 

TAPPING YOUR TALENTS


  • Recognizing Your Talents 
  • Making the Most of Multiple Talents
  • Making Every Job Count
  • When You’re the Youngest on the Job 
  • Developing Mentor Relationships

DEVELOPING A CREATIVE MINDSET

  • Creativity and Why it Matters
  • Looking at Things Another Way 
  • Turning Problems Into Opportunities 
  • Taking Risks and Making Mistakes
  • Cultivating a Sense of Curiosity 
  • Taking a Break
  • Breathe In, Breathe Out
  • The Power of Persistence
  • Expressing Personal Creativity 

EMBRACING THE JOURNEY

  • A Woman’s Path
  • Carving Out Alone Time
  • Thinking About Balance 
  • Accepting the Things You Cannot Control 
  • Don’t Cast Your Plans in Stone
  • In the Company of Women
  • Packing for the Adventure

Bibliography

 Acknowledgments 

INTRODUCTION

We are different women, with different life experiences, pursuing different dreams in different times. And yet, I suspect we have something in common—a set of questions we all ask: What should I do with my life? How can I make a difference? What gives my life meaning? How might I balance a career, family, and time for myself? And where do I begin?

I don’t have the answers to all of life’s questions—not even for myself, much less anyone else. Indeed, as I move through life, I tend to generate more questions than answers. It’s not because I’ve been unable to find my own answers but because the answers change over time. We change over time. We encounter new experiences and grow more fully into our own being and potential. Yet one of the things I have learned is that the answers to many of life’s most important questions are within us. We can actively seek them out by slowing down, quieting our minds, and taking the time to look deeply within our hearts. Even if we don’t find the answers immediately, we can begin to explore the questions—to delve more deeply into what matters most. To do this, we must be patient. And we must be willing to live with at least some degree of ambiguity while we seek our own answers. In time, most of these answers will be revealed—often when we least expect them.

While I may not have the answers for you, I have assembled a series of exercises that can help you begin to explore these questions yourself—to initiate an internal dialog about what matters most in your life. These exercises are based primarily on creative expression and creative problem-solving techniques that I have used both in my own life and in my work with young women. They can help you explore your talents, passions, values, and dreams.

Over the years, I’ve found both comfort and confidence when reading about or having conversations with other women. It is nice to know that we’re not on this road alone. Other women—whether they were role models, mentors, family members, or friends—have been there for me. They have inspired me and given me strength for the journey. They have helped me view opportunities and challenges in new ways. Throughout the book, you’ll find essays laced with stories. Some are my own stories, and some are the stories of other women who have asked the same big questions. In addition, there are short interviews with women of all ages who I greatly admire for their strength, passion, creativity, and the differences they are making in their worlds. I hope you will think of them as mentors in a book and that they will inspire you to establish relationships with personal mentors throughout your own life.

We gain experience, skills, and knowledge by doing, while we grow in wisdom and understanding by reflecting. Reflection is a powerful tool—one that brings us insights and personal growth. It’s one of the reasons I am a firm believer in journaling. Like many other journal keepers, I write to find out what I know. Almost always, I am surprised by the thoughts and insights that emerge from within. Journaling is a way to draw out these insights, so I have included tips on journaling, as well as journaling prompts after each essay. To explore their ideas, feelings, and dreams, some women prefer creating visual journals with sketches, photographs, or collages. Others opt for “life talks” with friends. Those methods are helpful, too. A journal, however, is a place you can express your innermost thoughts without fear of judgment. It also provides a written record of your explorations for future reference. The point is to explore the questions, and you can do that in whatever manner works best for you.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “follow your bliss.” I’d rather encourage you to create a life you love—one that taps your talents and passions while allowing you to make a difference in some meaningful way. It’s your life. No one lives it or knows what is in your heart except for you. Only you will experience each and every moment of your life. You may not know what lies ahead, but if you can begin to visualize and articulate your dreams now, you are much more likely to live them. Imagining those dreams and moving toward them is a creative process. Indeed, life is something you embrace and create—not just what happens to you along the way. What kind of life will you create?

Few things in life are black and white. There are many paths you can take, each offering unique possibilities and adventures along the way. Your task is to figure out which path is right for you at any given moment in time. Learn to trust your intuition and to see opportunities at every turn. Embrace change and move toward new challenges.

My reasons for writing this book are many. First, I wish I had taken more opportunities to openly explore these big life questions when I was younger, and that I’d had a set of questions and tools for doing so. I’ve heard other women say the same thing. Also, I have been inspired and touched by the college women I have advised and mentored over the years. They have shared their dreams, plans, uncertainties, and questions with me, and they have been open to new ways of exploring life’s possibilities. Many of them have used various tools in this book and tell me that they are helpful. Many of the essays are based on conversations I’ve had with them.

But most of all, I’m writing this book because I want you to believe in yourself, your talents, and your ability to achieve your dreams. You have talents. You simply need to explore and develop them more fully. You have passion. Perhaps that’s even why you picked up this book. You are creative. We were all born with creative potential. And you can develop a more creative mindset that will help you achieve your goals and handle whatever life presents along the way.

As you’ll hear from the women in this book, you’ve got to work hard to reach your full potential. Talent or intelligence alone is not enough. What matters most is having the right attitude and a creative mindset. Determination, resilience, optimism, passion, and confidence will carry you places that talent can’t. Along the way, you will undoubtedly encounter uncertainty and, at times, will need to show resilience when things don’t quite go according to plan. But never give up on what matters most in your life. Life is filled with opportunities. You have to prepare for them, put yourself out there, recognize them, and have the courage to take advantage of them when they come your way.

PRODUCT DETAILS

Her Own Way: Creating an Authentic Life (A Guide to Self-Discovery for College Women and Recent Graduates), by Lee Anne White

Publisher:  Whitespace Press (February 1, 2013)

216 pages

5.5" x 8.5"

Paperback:  $14.95        ISBN-13: 978-0-9887928-0-7 / ISBN-10: 098879280X

Kindle: $8.95                 ISBN-13:  978-0-9887928-1-4 / ISBN-10:  0988792818

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lee Anne White has a master’s degree in Creativity and Change Leadership from SUNY/Buffalo State College and believes that deep within each of us is creative potential just waiting to be unleashed. She is the author of seven books on landscape design, the former editor of Fine Gardening magazine, and an editorial and fine-art photographer. She lives in Georgia and advises a collegiate women’s organization at Brenau University.