My stronger pull, that is.
Before I reveal it to you, I want to reiterate my intention for this blog and website: to help you find your stronger pull. And the reason why I’d started it was because I’d not found mine. Or rather, I’d had one and lost it.
In terms of vocation, I’ve described myself as three things: a writer, a teacher, and a healer. These have all taken on different incarnations, but they’ve also overlapped. When I was a college freshman composition instructor, I confidently say that I was all three at once. I’m also a certified Reiki Master and Teacher, and even though I’ve not done it professionally, I have, in fact, practiced Reiki on a fairly regular basis. And I’ve written and published eleven novels, a memoir, and a sourcebook for writers. I’d suggest that some of those novels were therapeutic for me.
When my writing career disappeared, however, I’d had a bit of an existential crisis. I’d never wanted it to go away. If I wasn’t going to be a writer anymore, and I had no desire to go back into academia (or even teach privately), then what was next? Had it meant that I’d stopped being all of those things? Had they disappeared?
Most of this past year was about not only finding those answers, but also searching for the stronger pull—and perhaps even more important, allowing it, as the Rumi quote says. Because now that my vision is clearer on this matter, I can see that it had been there all along.
My love of feng shui and space clearing goes as far back as 1996, when a counselor had put Denise Linn’s book Sacred Space into my hands. At the time, it was only the second book on the subject written and published in the United States. I was fascinated by the idea of home not only as a reflection or metaphor for our life (and vice versa), but discovering that our home, like everything else around us, is energy in motion. That meant we could change it, and thus change our lives as well.
Since then, I’ve considered myself a “dabbler.” In 2004 I’d taken a class with a local practitioner in southeastern Massachusetts and learned the basics, mostly a reinforcement of what I learned in Sacred Space. In every apartment or house I lived, I did my best to balance the elements, enhance the chi, and make design and placement choices based on what would best support the space as well as my intentions. Some places I’d lived proved to be more challenging than others. What’s more, I’d never given enough (if any) consideration to the role of clutter—that is, when the feng shui didn’t seem to be “working,” so to speak, it never occurred to me that maybe an excess of stuff could be the culprit. And yet, when I clutter-cleared, sometimes life moved in a big way.
In 2016, I wrote a novel called Big Skye Littleton about a woman who gives up her life in Rhode Island and moves to Montana to be with her long-distance lover, only to discover that he’s ghosted her. She must then decide whether to return to Rhode Island (and her old life) with her tail between her legs, or bravely begin a new one in a place where she knows no one and has no prospects. Although my life had mirrored hers in that I too moved to Montana to take the distance out of my long-distance relationship, my similarities with Skye stopped there. But I can’t help but wonder if the book was a kind of unconscious foreshadowing for the way life did play out for me two years later. My husband never ghosted me—we made the move to Maine together—but I found myself unable to return to an old life and staring into the unknown of a new one.
Last summer, I had decided to follow The Life-Changing Magic Art of Tidying guru Marie Kondo and de-clutter my entire house, category by category rather than room by room. I had thought doing so would unblock my creativity and perhaps even give my dead writing career a little spark; or perhaps it would make us feel more at home in our new state. Instead, it led us to the difficult and disappointing realization that Maine was not the place for us, and we made the decision to move back to Montana. To assist me in this effort, I also took a course—yes, there’s a course—for people who want to become “clutter coaches”; put another way, be Marie Kondo for someone else. At first I was interested in applying what I learned in the course for my home only. But the further I progressed in the course, the more I wondered if this was something I could be good at. What’s more, everywhere I turned, people seemed to need help with their own spaces, and not just for the purposes of clearing out the clutter.
It took the confluence of events of 2020—moving back to Montana, a pandemic that resulted in people confined to their homes, and a redefining of the concept of “home”—for me to realize that what I truly love, what I’m meant to be doing right now, is space clearing. Not just the de-cluttering part, but also feng shui. It’s time to stop dabbling.
My new business is called Room Remedy Space Clearing. Two clients in, and my heart is already singing. Even in the midst of fear and uncertainty. Even when so many are struggling. Perhaps it’s because I believe I can be of service. Perhaps it’s because I believe it’s needed now more than ever. Or perhaps it’s because I’m still a writer, a teacher, and a healer. It wasn’t that what I had found had been lost; it’s that I hadn’t realized it had been hiding in plain sight.
I am holding you in love and light.
In my previous blogpost, I talked about The D Side podcast and how it's influenced this website and project. As a way to welcome people to The Stronger Pull, David (the host of The D Side and my good friend) and I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway of one of my novels: You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky (co-authored with my husband, Craig Lancaster).
Let me clear: IT IS NOT MY INTENTION TO USE THIS SITE TO SELL MY BOOKS. I have another website just for that. In fact, The Stronger Pull isn't as much about me as it is about you. About us.
However, we thought You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky was an appropriate prize for two reasons:
So, how do you enter to win a copy? Simply by subscribing to The Stronger Pull mailing list! But first, listen to the podcast! You can do both below. And if you'd like to read a free sample of You, Me & Mr. Blue Sky, you can go to elisalorello.com for more details.
Good luck, and thanks for joining me on this journey!
About a year ago, a good friend of mine and fellow Duran Duran fan started a podcast called The D Side. It's a place to talk about music (and Duran Duran, of course), but it goes deeper than that. David is more about the questions than the answers. Every episode gets me thinking about its subjects in ways I haven't before, and for me that's always the mark of engagement.
In fact, The D Side served as inspiration for this website and project. David's podcast is a gateway of sorts. It's not about connecting with the masses, but one fan at a time. And that fan doesn't have to be a Duran Duran fan, but someone who wants to go beyond fandom. In that vein, I wanted to do the same for The Stronger Pull. The same goes for my books as well; I've always experienced the perspective of success by the numbers--Amazon rankings and bestseller lists and units sold and royalties--but these days I'm more interested in meeting and connecting with the person, one reader at a time.
In other words, the stronger pull is toward the human side of writing and publishing and selling books. Doing so connects me with my own humanity, I believe.
When I flew to Atlanta in January to celebrate The D Side's first anniversary, David interviewed me for his podcast. We talked so much that he had enough material for two episodes! Part One launched on February 27 (exactly one month since I turned 50!). In this episode I talk about The Stronger Pull, authenticity, my husband, and more.
Part Two airs on March 5--in the meantime, I'm inviting you to subscribe to The Stronger Pull mailing list. In the coming months you'll keep up with the blog, receive inspiration and affirmations, and get updates on the status of my own podcast and other projects still under construction. I'll never spam you or share your information.
And, heads up--there's a little surprise coming with the Part Two of The D Side interview that you'll need to be a subscriber for, so you don't want to miss out!
Thanks so much for allowing me to connect with you!
Which of the following feels true for you?
They're both affirmations. The second one is positive and constructive. The first one is negative and destructive. And they're only true if you believe it.
I was first introduced to the concept of affirmations in the early 1990s. Until then, I hadn't realized just how many negative thoughts I had, or how my reality manifested as a result of those thoughts. For example: "I'm not worthy of a healthy love relationship." "No one wants me." "I'm not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, thin enough," etc. These negative affirmations all manifested in the form of toxic relationships, floating from job to job and school to school, and low self-esteem, even after losing thirty pounds.
When I learned that these thoughts could be changed, and I began to change them by way of positive affirmation, then my reality changed as well. "I am not good enough," changed to "I love and approve of myself." "I never get what I want" changed to "I am open and receptive to all good things." "No one wants me" changed to "I am worthy of and desired by the perfect job, school, relationships," etc.
Discovering the power of these positive affirmations was like finding a master key that unlocked any and every door to love, prosperity, success, etc. My life went from murky to magnificent. Within two years of first practicing positive affirmations, I had dissolved that toxic relationship, moved away and went back to school (this time graduating with honors), and welcomed all kinds of new and exciting experiences. I healed past hurts. I grew increasingly confident.
Affirmations need to be constant, however. Much like life, they're a work-in-progress, and sometimes they take time to sink in. Someone who has believed "I am not good enough" for most of her life may have to say "I approve of myself" many, many times until she begins to believe it.
Here's another example. It took me a long time to get my finances in order. In the late 1990s, I had a psychic reading shortly after a heartbreaking end of a love relationship. I had come hoping the woman would tell me what I wanted to hear: that my ex-boyfriend would realize he had made a big mistake and ask me for a second chance. Instead, she blurted this, seemingly out of nowhere: You never have to worry about money.
Wait, what? Are you crazy? I just spent my last 20 dollars on a box of spaghetti, a jar of sauce, a loaf of bread, a jar apiece of peanut butter and jelly, and a half-gallon of milk, and it was going to have to last me two weeks. And what about my ex-boyfriend?
She never told me why I didn't have to worry. Didn't predict or foresee any kind of windfall, and I didn't ask. I simply dismissed it.
I had never forgotten the woman's words, but seven years later I was still struggling financially. At one point I was four months behind on my rent (I had very loving and patient landlords). Finally, I had decided to not only listen to what the woman had told me, but also believe it: "I never have to worry about money." Within a year, I got my first full-time teaching position with benefits. I even got retro-pay and used it to pay all the back-rent I owed. (My landlord gave me a big hug!) The year after that, I moved to North Carolina and into a beautiful apartment with comforts I'd never had before: a fully applianced kitchen and pantry; a washer-and-dryer hookup; central air conditioning, etc. For once, I paid all my bills on time each month, and even began eliminating debt. I published my first novel, and that brought in even more money.
In 2012, I made the leap to full-time novelist and moved back to the northeast coast (and a higher cost of living). Within months, I feared that I had made a big mistake, and that I would need to move in with my mother until I found another full-time job.
Wait a minute, I thought. I never have to worry about money, remember? It's all working out for the best. I repeated this constantly.
And sure enough, one of my books went to number one on the Kindle Store bestseller list in Germany, and it stayed there for six weeks straight. That month I made more money than I had in my previous full-time teaching annual salary!
Even these last two years, which have been pretty lean financially speaking, my affirmation has been "Money always comes to my husband and me when we need it." And it does. Every time.
Positive affirmations are beautiful things, but you need to pay attention to and practice them constantly. Repeat them like mantras. Write them and recite them, over and over again. Say them in the shower, on the treadmill, or during your commute, silently or aloud. Heck, I even affirm that I always get a good parking space, and I do!
The key to an effective affirmation is putting it in the present and positive tense. If you say "someday I'm going to fall in love," then you'll always be waiting for it. However, if you say, "I am attracting a wonderful love relationship," then circumstances will mirror that thought. Also, there's a big difference between "I am not getting sick" and "I enjoy good health" or "I heal quickly."
What you put into the world always comes back to you.
Finally, surrender the outcome of the affirmation. In other words, it's not about expecting the outcome you want, but rather trusting that the outcome will be for the highest good of all. For example, two years ago my husband and I put our house in Montana up for sale. I affirmed that the perfect buyer was on its way, but no one showed up. After several months, we decided to rent the house. We found a fantastic property manager, and she found a lovely family who has taken excellent care of the place. Little did we know that we'd be returning to Montana and that house! Things worked out in a way we couldn't have foreseen then, and it was a win-win.
Here's an invitation for you:
Think about something you'd like to change or attract in your life. For example, perhaps you want a raise, or a new job. Craft affirmations that support it, such as "my salary is constantly increasing," or "I am well compensated for my talents and abilities." Repeat them as much as you can.
If that's too big a leap, then start smaller. You can even make it something fun, like "I now welcome an ice cream sundae into my life," and see what happens! Remember, you have to repeat the affirmation; it's not a "one-and-done."
Or try this one, which always brings positive results in sometimes miraculous ways. Affirm "I approve of myself," like a broken record (I am revealing my age with that metaphor!), and pay attention to what thoughts come up, as well as what happens in the days and weeks of your saying it. Even if your initial thoughts are negative, like "that's not true," keep saying it. As Wayne Dyer says, you'll see it when you believe it! It will eventually become true for you.
Have you worked with positive affirmations before? Please comment and share in what ways they've worked for you. Need help converting a negative affirmation to a positive one? Let me know and I can help! Or try the above exercises and report your progress.
To do a deep dive into the power of affirmations, read the book that changed my life over 25 years ago.
Around 2005, I was living in southeastern Massachusetts and teaching part time at two different universities. I was also in a little bit of flux--having just gotten my master's degree in 2003, I wasn't sure if I wanted to move on to a PhD or start flaming the spark of pursing this new love of novel-writing. I also was thinking about relocating, although I wasn't sure where I wanted to go. I was thinking of staying in the New England area, but no town or state had piqued my interest enough.
One day I received an email from a friend and colleague--it was a posting for a full-time teaching position at a college in Greensboro, North Carolina. This person didn't know I'd been looking for anything new, or to relocate. Certainly I hadn't thought of someplace that seemingly far away, even though I had family who lived in the Raleigh-Durham area. "I think you would be a good fit," he wrote.
He was right. When I read the job description, it was as if every cell within me had lit up--it was as if this position was created just for me. I absolutely had to apply. Moreover, everything in me told me that this job was already mine, that this was the change I'd been seeking.
I applied, and sure enough, the college invited me to fly down to Greensboro and interview with them. It had been my first time on a plane in a little over ten years. I went, full of confidence. The campus was cozy and inviting. Everything felt right.
And then I blew the interview.
Or so I believe. It was something I said in passing, a kind of foot-in-mouth comment that had been misunderstood, and no amount of walking it back could undo it. I saw the look on the interviewer's face. She'd made up her mind at that moment.
I flew home, in shock and disbelief. What had happened? Had I somehow subconsciously sabotaged myself? Had my intuition been off? Had I just monumentally screwed up?
I came home to find a message on my answering machine from another university, one in the southern New England area: a position had opened up there, and they wanted me to fill it. No one else in the running. On paper, it was a great job; part teaching, part consulting, and part administrating, very much in line with the career direction I'd wanted to take while I was still in grad school. I thought, maybe this was what had been meant to be all along.
The North Carolina college informed me that I didn't get the job. Thus, I accepted that position at the other university.
And I was miserable.
I'd had a hard time coming to terms with what had happened. Had a hard time forgiving myself. And I didn't like the new job, even though it had taught me something important: I wasn't cut out to be an administrator.
Over time, and with the help of a counselor, I forgave myself and the outcome of the situation. And when I did, something interesting happened: that same college in Greensboro had yet another full-time teaching position open, the very same one. I got excited at the notion of a second chance, and I applied again.
But something told me I wasn't going to get it this time, either. That the woman who'd turned me down the first time had still remembered my comment, and she'd not changed her mind.
And then, while sitting in a faculty meeting, a sense of calm came over me. Following the meeting, I drove home, and announced to the friend that had been staying with me: "I'm moving to North Carolina regardless of whether I get that job."
And then, it was as if the waters parted. a number of colleges and universities in the Greensboro area were hiring, and I applied to them all. I flew down again, conducted a couple of interviews, and, just as I was living, was called for an interview with North Carolina State University in Raleigh. I had applied to this school almost as an afterthought, a "might as well."
You guessed it. That's the one that offered me the job. And when I accepted, I realized that's where I was meant to be all along. I relocated in 2006 and stayed until 2012. And during those six years I got to watch my niece and nephew grow up, met someone who took me under his wing and taught me all about how the publishing industry works (at least from the author's side), and by 2010 my debut novel found success beyond anything I'd ever dreamed about. Not only that, but at NC State I was honored and privileged to work with the most outstanding faculty I'd ever known, met some remarkable students I still keep in touch with to this day, and made a bunch of new friends.
Sometimes your intuition is right even when your expectation is wrong. That is to say, you always must listen to your heart, but surrender the outcome. "This, or something better," you say. Yes, maybe that college in Greensboro really was supposed to be "the one." Maybe I did fumble the ball on the goal line. But the sequence of events--the alternative job that revealed what I don't want; the forgiveness; the letting go of the outcome; the decision to go regardless of the outcome; the following all roads--every part of that landed me in Raleigh. And once I'd arrived, I knew it had all worked out "perfectly."
Have you ever been faced with something you desired in which you surrendered the outcome, only for it to work out even better than you'd expected? Is there something in your life that you currently desire in which you can ask the Universe for "This, or something better"? If you're comfortable doing so, please share in the comments below.
You may have heard of the tradition of assigning a name, or a word or phrase, or even affirmation to the new year that sets the intention of what you want the year to be like. Borrowing from my Catholic upbringing, I’ve often “christened” this name on January 6, known as Epiphany, or the day Jesus was named.
Here’s how well last year’s name stuck: I don’t even remember if I gave it one. And having undoubtedly been the most difficult year of the decade, perhaps that says a lot.
This year, however, I knew I was going to be completely intentional. 2020 not only marks the beginning of a new decade, but it’s also the year I turn 50 (in just a few short weeks, actually). So, yeah, it’s kind of a big deal for me. I’ve been spending the past two weeks reflecting on what I’d like the name—and the year—to be like, especially coming off a year of loss, letdowns, and looking for a new direction. It was a year of grieving, but it was also a year of learning. When I thought about what I wanted to manifest in 2020, one phrase kept coming to mind: perfect vision.
After all, that’s what 20/20 is, isn’t it?
“Perfect” in this context isn’t necessarily literal—for one thing, I’m not expecting to not need glasses anymore, and I’m not wishing for superpower X-ray vision (although hey, I wouldn’t turn them down, either). In this context, perfect vision is a kind of partnership with the Universe. It’s trusting in divine clarity when my own is blurry. It’s trusting in the clarity of my intuition. And it’s fine-tuning my intentions and putting full faith in them where fear once lived. As the late Wayne Dyer said, “You’ll see it when you believe it!”
So we’re all set, I thought. And yet, I wasn’t 100% sold.
I try to do daily oracle and/or tarot card readings, selecting one card from a chosen deck. I then log them in my journal. In the final week of December 2019, I drew the same card from the Akashic Tarot deck three times: Wishes Fulfilled.
The third time, the past tense it finally hit me: It’s already happened.
Whatever I desire is already on its way. Like when you place an order online. Once you’ve paid for it, you know it’s a matter of time before it arrives. You may get excited and check your mailbox each day, but you don’t doubt whether it’s going to show up. You don’t attach expectations to how it will look, or worry that the company will botch your order. You don’t obsess about the possibility of it getting lost in the mail, or broken or stolen, etc. You make room for it, be it in your closet or your kitchen or your bookcase. You think about how excited you’re going to be when it arrives. You picture yourself using and enjoying it.
Wishes Fulfilled requires the same allowing and patience and faith. Your order has been placed and it’s on its way. True, there’s rarely a timetable, but you don’t need to worry about that. Your job is to get ready and get excited. Make room in your life for it.
When it comes to manifesting—be it a new job/career, success, health, relationship, etc.—it’s so easy to ask for what we want. It’s so hard to allow or receive it without attaching expectations to the forms they take or the time it takes for them to arrive. It’s hard to believe in what you can’t yet see. Because we forget that it’s already been fulfilled.
I knew 2020 needed two names, that they went hand-in-hand, like a first name and a last name. Perfect Vision and Wishes Fulfilled. The second is the consequence of the first, and vice-versa. Moreover, it puts 2019 into perspective—I was making room. Getting ready. Letting go.
And now, I’m excited. It’s all on its way.