Live Generously

Live Generously

For the past few years I’ve kept a practice of creating a theme for the year ahead. I take an area I need stretching in...emotionally, in business, or spiritually...and add some hopes & dreams & prayers. I may write a dream list and then wrap it all up with a word or phrase that becomes a guiding theme. 

It always becomes so much more than what I envisioned. I never know what to expect, but I open my arms with curiosity & faith, ready to embrace whatever comes. I trust it’s been given the go-ahead from the Beloved. 

I called 2017 my “Year of Presence.” To be honest, when I first inked that name into my Moleskine I was tucked away in a frigid room in Northwest Arkansas and I meant show up; be present. My dreamy lists and business prayers included in-the-flesh retreats and workshops, a passionate channel on YouTube, traveling with my camera to witness women, and so much more. It felt healing to dream, sitting in a place that held so much soul-shriveling heaviness. 

Instead, 2017 began with tragedy.

2017 also became a year where I needed to take some time off work for personal reflections & tending to. I wrote an intense series on eschatology. Personal relationships shifted. So did personal space. I let go. I shed the weight of the years: letters & journals I've lugged around for the last three decades. People showed their true selves, whether anonymously or with names attached. I cleared my bookshelves & traded books for cash for groceries. I deleted social media accounts. Both my husband & I lost family members this year; his grandfather passed away in the beginning of autumn and my grandmother two weeks ago, right at the end.

2017 felt like a wild and silent storm that pulverized the earth of me but also clarified so much and cleared out everything that didn't belong in my present and forward-moving life.

2017 was my Year of Presence, just not how I expected. 

As I wrote to my inner circle recently, do growth and grief always march along together?

Maybe. But if so, grace comes, too. 

In my year of presence I learned that God is more beautiful and kind than anyone has language for. That the Creator of the heavens & the earth is closer than my breath, your breath, your baby's breath. That life is a dazzling gift longing to be experienced by you because you were tenderly constructed bone by bone, dream by dream, to live your wild & holy Now to the very edge and then leap off into the everlasting. That if you had the minutest idea of just how greatly you are loved, your mind would burst with the knowledge of it. That there is a deep and abiding thrumming tenderness here, just out of sight but wrapped all the way around you—your skin, each of your toes, even the littlest one that goes off a bit to the side, each strand of your hair, your eyelashes, your nose, your hips, even though you wish they weren't so soft, your tummy, your kneecaps and arms—waiting for you to lift your heart & see it. 

We have no true earthly idea of the immensity of the eternal. This brief road we travel between birth & death is nothing and everything. We see through a glass dimly, Paul tries to explain. And oh how dim it is compared to all that is to come!

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.—1 Cor. 2:7-11

It's time for a story.

So much this year, especially the recent passing of my grandmother, has flooded me with an espresso shot of urgency. With a reminder that life is a gift and we must must must live, do and be who and what we were made for.

We cannot become complacent.
We cannot take our days, our breaths, our loved ones for granted.
We cannot drift along waiting for “someday, when...”

Someday, when we have the cash we need...
Someday, when we lose those eighty pounds...
Someday, when the perfect idea falls into our dreams and we wake up and write a book that changes the world...
Someday, when everything is perfect...
Someday, when we are ready...

My job is to trust. 
To begin. 
To sculpt, which means cutting away what doesn't belong and reveal what is meant to be. It means asking, “Do I really want to spend my time this way?” when accidentally caught up in drama. It means being ruthless and loving. Resolute and resilient. Gracious and firm. Soft and strong. It means writing my stop-doing list which is just as vital as my dream-list.

It means deepening how I show up and connect with those who choose my presence. 

I've shared this story before, I will share it again, and I hope you don't get tired of it. But for me as an artist, a creative entrepreneur, and a humble guide for women who long for meaning and depth, it's everything...

This. Because I'm done taking the long way around.

In this new & renewed season of my own life, I've turned my approach to life and work inside out. I'm done taking the long way around. I'm ready to work backward. 

I believe you can learn so much taking the long road, and I'm grateful for all of the experience and knowledge I've gleaned, but it's a new season now. I have LIFE to live, and there are women I'm called to guide, nurture & support as they create their own spacious, meaningful and sustainable businesses & lives.  

If this is you, let's work backward together. 

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2018: Live Generously

Today I'm looking at my brand new calendar for 2018 and filling in birthdays & launch dates & have-it-in-bys. It is my Year of Living Generously. I'm writing my backwards business plan and committed to running a trust-based business that starts with the end first.

The end, for me, is not about making the dollars or being the next celebrity entrepreneur. It's about genuinely helping & guiding women who want a meaningful legacy and a deeper life. It's about sharing what I've learned & know. It's about making a difference and truly being of service. Telling others about what & who I love. Living by faith and being my own eccentric brand of bohemian theologian, artist & mentor. Being just vulnerable enough to be outside of my comfort zone with the hope that it inspires, encourages, and blesses someone else.

These are the things I'd do anyway once I “made it” in life and business.

(You know the whole: What would you do if money were no object?)

So that's where I choose to begin. 


Hillary McFarland