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Excerpt from "Waiting For Jack: Confessions of a Self Help Junkie"

by Kristen Moeller

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Morgan Freeman as Red inThe Shawshank Redemption

The first time I met Jack, I ripped a hundred-dollar bill out of his hand.

On a cold winter day, I waited in line to see one of my heroes, Jack Canfield, the co-author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He was speaking at Mile High Church in Denver to a packed house and a sold out show. Determined to get the best seats possible, I persuaded my dear friend Lainie to accompany me in line, in spite of the biting February rain. Nestling as close as possible to the building, under the overhang, we dined on our takeout burritos until two hours later when they finally opened the door. I was determined!

Jack’s topic for the event was his book, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Where I wanted to be was a version of what Jack had become—an author, a national speaker, an inspiration to thousands of people. He was the whole package—successful, charming, kind, and thoughtful—a visionary for what is possible in the world. I thought, “If I can get to know him, I will become that.”

When I saw the opportunity, I grabbed it. Literally. During his presentation, Jack reached for his wallet, pulled out a hundred-dollar bill, and said, “Who wants this?” Hands shot up in the audience; people leaned forward to see whom Jack would choose. But I leapt up, ran up the stairs to the stage, and grabbed the bill from his hand. As I was launching myself in the air, all sorts of thoughts ran through my mind: “Was I about to be humiliated in front of 800 people? Would they call security and haul me from the stage?” But my desire for bold action was louder than any of the other voices of doubt.

As I plucked the bill from his hand, Jack turned to me and said, “Yes! That’s it! We can’t wait around for the opportunities to come to us. We must take action to create what we say we want!”

After his talk, again I waited in line to meet Jack (formally, this time!) and boldly asked for his personal e-mail address. I was thrilled when he gave it to me. Over the next several months I sent him lengthy e-mails sharing my vision, dreams, and what I was trying to create. He kindly e-mailed back one-liners of encouragement such as, “Keep thinking and playing bigger; it’s much more fun that way. Love, Jack.” After a few months, my inspiration faded, I filled my life with other things, and I stopped e-mailing Jack.

A year later, my dreams had grown stale. I had this idea if I got back in touch with Jack, he might just provide the perfect, inspiring nudge I needed. I was looking for something that would spur me into action, like a giant arrow that would show me the way and lead me in the right direction.

I e-mailed Jack; then a few days later, I e-mailed him again. I got no response. Distressed, I wondered, “What if I never hear from him again? What if I have blown this important connection?”

In the midst of a family gathering, I sneaked away to check my e-mail—for the fifth time in fifteen minutes …

Suddenly I woke up!

What was I doing?

Even after all these years of growth and development—my extensive training and experience—I was waiting!

This time, I was waiting for Jack.

I’ve repeatedly heard we have only this one precious life. We need to go for the gusto, get off the sidelines, and play the game! In books, seminars, and various disciplines I’ve studied and experienced, the underlying message is always the same: All we have is now. And yet here I was waiting for something special to happen outside of me—searching for something or someone to make me feel inspired again.

When I looked further, I didn’t like what I saw. Not only was I waiting, I was impatiently waiting for Jack. I was compulsively checking my e-mail, hoping my scrutiny would compel him to write me back. I was preoccupied, thinking he was the answer—that somehow he could provide what I (mistakenly) thought I was missing. I was putting my life on hold instead of getting out there in the world and creating what I said I want to create.

Then I realized, “If I am still waiting, then others must be too.” I recalled that day in Denver. Many of the people in the audience were probably sitting in their chairs thinking, “I want that hundred-dollar bill!” They were, as Jack had pointed out, waiting. I recalled my recent trip to the supermarket where I glanced at magazine headlines that seemed to scream out, “Buy me and I’ll change your life! The answer is in here—on my glossy pages!” If we believe the headlines, we clearly lack something. We have forgotten where the answers truly are.

An Oliver Wendell Holmes quote ran through my mind: “Many people die with their music still in them.” He goes on to say, “Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.” In that moment, I knew I needed to do something about all of this waiting—and I was inspired to write this book.

The Status Quo

For many of us, patterns of waiting and searching begin in childhood. Each year as Christmas approached, I could barely sleep. I longed not only for the magic of that morning—the fresh snow and twinkling lights on the tree—but also for that particular present. The thing I felt I had to possess that I hoped would make me feel complete. The Barbie doll, the miniskirt—whatever it happened to be that year. As I got older, I discovered boys and waited for my first kiss, my first love. Surely, when he arrived I would be whole; I would be the true me. Then I waited by the phone for him to call.

Convinced the real excitement of life was just around the corner, I waited to earn the freedom of my driver’s license. Then I waited to graduate high school, as surely my “real” life would begin in college. On and on it went.

Waiting for what comes next has become our method of relating to the world, our learned way of being. We wait with the intention of my life will be better when …We wait to earn more money, to have less debt, to get married (or to get divorced), to have children, to retire. Many of us even wait to become spiritually enlightened! We wait for the next teacher, guru, or therapist; he or she will finally explain the meaning of life. We anticipate that the new experience or the next seminar or retreat will provide answers. We wait for recognition, to be discovered, to feel safe, to get it right. We wait to feel inspired (one of my personal favorites). We wait until our affairs are in order, our eggs are in different baskets, our ducks are in a row. We wait because when that thing arrives or happens, we will be fine, then we will be happy.

This type of waiting is distinct from being patient. As it is said, patience is a virtue. When we are patient, we are at ease. We freely allow ourselves to trust the process. We consciously allow life to unfold. However, when we wait, we put our life on hold. We become trapped in our impatience and turmoil. We define ourselves by that thing or experience that is supposed to change it all and make it better. We are not present to life, and we lose sight of who we really are.

Paradoxically, we wait and try to get somewhere at the same time—and that somewhere is anywhere but here, in the moment, in the now. We believe when we get there or have that, we will possess eternal happiness. We look for the magic pill. But what if we’ve already swallowed it? What if we were born with it? What if we are it?

To Seek is human

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men.

Zora Neale Hurston

It has been said the journey within is the most important journey of all. Many of us follow a path, searching for meaning—for something bigger. Although this is a worthwhile endeavor, do we search at the expense of finding?

We incessantly seek, convinced the next big thing will finally give us the answer that will make everything all right. We remain seduced by a distant destination, sailing with one eye always on the horizon, forgetting that the destination might just be a mirage.

Our lucrative and enormous self-help industry actually depends upon us seeking endlessly, walking a path without arriving at that elusive destination?enlightenment. Type “self-help” into the search function at Amazon.com, and you will find more than 172,000 book titles alone. Often we read these books without taking the necessary action that will allow us to create the transformation we want. We might even think they contain “the answer,” yet these books will not change us. Only we can take the action that will create the transformation we seek.

Many of us are actually addicted to self-improvement. Some, like me, are admitted self-help junkies! The common theme is we never quite settle in. We keep going and going, peeling back more and more layers of the proverbial onion, hoping one day we will find the truth about life and ourselves. One day we will arrive and everything will make sense. We will finally be okay. We will be “fixed.”

Not only do we perpetually seek, we act as though we have all the time in the world to get there. In truth, we live in a physical body and in a physical world—our clocks are ticking. Tragically, many of us live our entire lives without fulfilling our dreams. Why is this?

We have a case of what is called “the human condition.” In her book Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert describes the human condition as “the heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment.” We seem to have a basic dissatisfaction with what is. We want things, people, places, and ourselves—in short, our lives—to be different. And we want a quick fix. We want it all now. So we search endlessly, look outside ourselves relentlessly, and we wait. We are busy searching, wanting, hoping, and praying, but we aren’t living; living our lives as if, as if we have arrived, as if we are enough.

What if we are enough and have enough, right now, as we are?

What if, instead of changing how we are, how we look, or what we do, we start by changing our perspective?

What if we could see ourselves and the world differently—with more compassion and less criticism?

What if we chose growth for its own sake—from the joy of discovery—and not from a sense of lack?

What if we realized there was nothing to wait for?

Becoming a Fierce Disruption of the Ordinary

When I realized I was waiting for Jack, I declared that I would disrupt the status quo, the ordinariness of waiting. I declared an end to my “search addiction” and that I would quit gazing outward for answers. I allowed myself to imagine a whole planet of people so fulfilled that the “self-help” industry proved unnecessary and actually disappeared—a planet of people who already understood that they are okay as they are, with their flaws, their social standing, their level of popularity, the amount of money they have in the bank, and their level of spiritual enlightenment. That would be extraordinary. We could turn our attention away from our external wandering and focus on what is essential, whether it’s living in the present moment, making a difference in the world, or cleaning the refrigerator. The extraordinary thing would be that we would get to choose. If we wanted to search, we could search. If we wanted to wait, we could wait. But we could do it from a place of knowing that we are whole and complete. Now that would be a fierce disruption of our ordinary!

The status quo is to live an ordinary life. There is nothing wrong with that. Ordinary isn’t bad and extraordinary isn’t good. However, ordinary can be limiting, and many of us say we want more.

Some of the “ordinary” patterns we can fall into are:

Waiting (and putting our lives on hold).

Looking outside ourselves for answers.

Allowing self-doubt to get in the way of going after what we want.

Lacking respect for ourselves and others.

Forgetting our power.

Losing sight of who we really are.

Giving up.

Constantly being in a hurry.

Forgetting to appreciate the simple things.

Disrupting the ordinary can be expressed in countless ways. By being a better friend, being a more supportive co-worker, or running for the president of the United States. By writing a book, picking up litter, or saying “thank you.” By trying to solve world hunger, kissing your grandmother, or remembering to take out the trash.

I am not here to tell you what being a fierce disruption of the ordinary should look like for you. You get to decide that. I invite you to begin the inquiry.

Imagine once upon a time you knew you were perfect.

At some point you forgot.

You started trying to get somewhere.

You were waiting for your life to start. You looked outside yourself for the answers.

You forgot you already had all of the answers.

You lost sight of your dreams or told yourself you didn’t have any.

You stopped living your life fully. You kept searching but never finding.

You settled for a life of fixing yourself.

Now you can stop …

What Are You Waiting For?

  1. Do you incessantly search and never settle in?
  2. Are you a self-help junkie?
  3. What are you waiting for? For instance, are you waiting for happiness, safety, money or a relationship?
  4. What does a disruption of the ordinary mean to you?
  5. What have you forgotten about who you really are?

Excerpt from “Waiting for Jack: Confessions of a Self-Help Junkie – How to Stop Waiting and Start Living Your Life” reprinted with permission from Morgan James Publishing.

Kristen Moeller is a highly respected coach, author, speaker and radio show host who holds a master’s degree in counseling and has more than 20 years experience in the field of personal development. Her Best-Selling book, Waiting for Jack explores why we wait and look outside ourselves for answers. Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame wrote the foreword to the book. Kristen is also the founder of the non-profit Chick-a-go Foundation, which provides “pay-it-forward” scholarships for transformational educational training programs reaching people who otherwise cannot afford such opportunities. Ms. Moeller also hosts a weekly internet radio show, “What Are You Waiting For?” and is a celebrity ambassador to the National Eating Disorder Association. She resides in Colorado with her husband in eco-friendly, solar powered home.

To contact Kristen, please visit www.waitingforjack.com

To order the book on Amazon.com, please go to: http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Jack-Confessions-Self-Help-Junkie/dp/1600377254

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