Today Laura is chatting with Author/photographer, Mary Sullivan. Mary is originally from Buffalo New York (and a Bills fan) who now lives in Hawaii. She has worked in jobs ranging from environmental science to criminalist to safety manager. She start...
Today Laura is chatting with Author/photographer, Mary Sullivan. Mary is originally from Buffalo New York (and a Bills fan) who now lives in Hawaii. She has worked in jobs ranging from environmental science to criminalist to safety manager. She started being coached 3 years ago and reached her first major goal last year by publishing her book Virtual Vacation.
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You hear coaches and people online telling you you have to go out there and build your life and your dreams from scratch. But and sometimes people assume that you have to leave your job to start something new. Not so I want to share with you that you can reinvent yourself and your life, right from where you stand. And we have a wonderful guest here today we've been working together for years. Her name is Mary Sullivan. And I'm so excited to invite her to the show, so you're gonna want to stick around and hear her story.
The following was recorded in front of a live studio audience at the studio 21 podcast cafe. This is the United Podcast Network.
Welcome to rat race reboot. I'm your host, Laura Noel. And as a certified coach and former 27 year military leader, each week, I provide bite sized mindset pivots that will help you reset your mind reawaken your spirit and regain your control. Welcome, welcome, everyone. I'm so excited Mary to have you on the show just a couple of lines here about Mary. She's from originally from Buffalo, New York. She says I'm not a Bills fan. And she now lives in Hawaii, that's when we first met. She's worked in jobs ranging from environmental science to a criminalist to a safety manager. And she started being coached about three years ago. And she first reached her one of her major goals last year by publishing her virtual book or her book called virtual vacation. And it's such a beautiful book, we're going to talk more about that and dive into that. But Mary, welcome to the show. Hi, Laura,
it's great to be here.
It's so great to have you, it's so great to connect with you in this way. It's been a wonderful journey. And I watched it unfold for you over the past few years. And what I find so wonderful about you and about what you're about to share. Because I know your story is you're gonna inspire so many people. And you're already doing that in the content that you're creating with your book and your art. And just even with your story that you're about to share. So I want to kind of take you back in time or take the audience back in time. And I'd love for you to share a little glimpse of where you were a few years ago in terms of your work and your workload and some of these ideas that were percolating in your mind.
Yeah, so I've been working for the last 15 years or so as a safety manager in the construction field. And when you and I met, it was a presentation that one of my colleagues had set up. And it was just about setting goals for yourself. And I remember going in and listening to your talk, and it was like an hour or two hours. But there were so many inspiring things that it got me thinking. And that was the first time I ever wrote down this goal that I had in the back of my head of creating this book. And it was a book with my photography of places I've been, and combining it with haiku photography, and it was just meant to be a gift for friends, or initially. So it wasn't this huge goal. But then it became a huge goal.
Yeah. Oh, my gosh. And I remember that I remember you when we first met, and it was after I did the workshop. And you were just you kind of shared with me on the side. I have these poems that I'm writing and I write haikus. And I want to put together this book for friends. And I was like, Oh, I could see so much more. Oh, this is so amazing. I want to I would love to help you. And it was a couple of years later, where we actually connected and then started working together. And so when you had this idea in your mind, what were some of your thoughts? Because I know, I know in the safety field and I know some colleagues in that that genre of work in in Hawaii too. And I know how busy it can be how much time were you spending at work and kind of just managing the day to day did you feel like you even had the capacity and the time to even pursue something like this?
Well, that's exactly that the point we get. We work so much in the safety field. And in addition to the time management aspect, I had this thought these thoughts in my head that I'm not an author, I am not a photographer. I didn't see myself as being able to reach that high. And so the coaching is what actually got me over that and got my I got out of my own way You know what I mean? I finally could see myself and say, Yes, you know, why why shouldn't I be an author? Why shouldn't I be a photographer, a poet.
I love that I, you know, that's, that's one of the things that I find so many people struggle with. And you know, and even in our community and having conversations, when people first come on board, it's, you have your goal, and it's one thing to write it down and put it on paper. And then it's another thing, we talk about how we take a fantasy, and we turn it into a theory. And then we turn that theory into a goal or reality. And what I'm hearing in the story is that you had this fantasy of turning this, this work into something beautiful that you could give to people as a gift of love to others. And then you started theorizing and thinking, Oh, my gosh, you know, getting emotionally involved in it. I would be an author, I'm, I'm not an author, I'm not a photographer. And so we kind of have this push and pull of, you know, beliefs in your mind. And then overcoming that to realize, you know, what? I can I am an author, I can be an author, why couldn't I be an author? Why not me. And that's when we take this fantasy. And we actually turn it into, it kind of goes through that theory stage, we start playing around with ideas, and then it actually becomes the goal. So you really had to reconcile in your mind. The fact that you are an author, you are a photographer, how was that journey for you?
It actually took a long time, from the time that you and I, we had the presentation, until I called you up, it was a good year, that I had to think about it. And then I called you up one day, and I wasn't sure where you were living at the time. And I'm like, Hey, can you go get coffee, you're on the East Coast. But let's talk. And I signed up that day. So it's been wonderful, because it's taught me all of the different thought distortions that that I work through, you know, that terror barrier of fear of doing it, but then also knowing that you can have these wonderful thoughts, and you can put together the theory, but you have to do the work. And that's the hard part two is facing the rejection and criticism. That's, that's a hard thing to reconcile.
Let's talk about that a little bit. So you fast forward, you decided that you wanted to create this book, and initially it was for friends. And then something shifted in you where you're doing this work. And we're working through some of the thought distortions and paradigms of, you know, who am I to do this? Am I really an author? I'm saying I'm an author, but do I believe it? And then you so you built up this belief in yourself, that you are an author, and that prepared you for pitching your book. So something something in that journeys, there was a switch where you decided that not only did you want to get us as a gift, you wanted to actually publish the book. So tell me about that. How did that transpire for you?
Yeah, as we started working, I took that original goal that I wrote down that I want to create this book to give to my friends for a Christmas present. And it's gonna have beautiful photographs in it and haiku about the places I've been. And then I started thinking, well, if my friends are gonna like this, other people might like it, too. And so I started thinking about, okay, how do I, how do I go about publishing a book. And so I started researching, and I started reaching out to literary agents to for representation. And I had to steel myself for rejection, because there were over 30 rejections in this process. And there was even a previous publisher that wanted to publish it. But I didn't like the terms that they were, they were suggesting, and it didn't feel right. And so I had to decide, okay, is this a rational decision on my part, or am I just afraid of success? And if I didn't take that offer, and then I had a better offer later, just someone who I felt really in tune with. And so I learned to trust my intuition throughout this process.
I love that I remember these steps and I love having this conversation. So you reconciled in your mind and you created the belief that you are an author, and that if friends would like this, other people would like it to and then you started theorizing and fantasizing about, you know, well, what would this look like? What could this look like? You You know, we have choices of self publish. Doing or publishing through an agent, and you decided you wanted to, to have somebody publish your book. And then as you're on that journey, I feel like you've built enough belief in yourself and your self image as an author, to where even when you got rejected by different agents, you didn't take it personally, you didn't internalize it, because really, those rejections had nothing to do with you. It had everything to do with your goal and where you want it to go. There was another thing that you said that I wanted to key in on is, you had a clear vision of not only the what the book, but how it would be distributed? And under what terms and what kind of relationship you wanted to have with a publisher. So that and here's where people sometimes slip up, when they don't do the work and the work is in, you know, yes, you have to take steps. Yes, you have to follow your curiosity, what would it look like to have an agent? What would it look like to be published? How would how might that work? What does it cost? What kind of contracts, what a contracts look like? You're following your intuition and your curiosity, and it's leading you down this path. But where I see a lot of people slip up is they don't do the work and building up their self image first. So they take the first offer that's available to them. And, and it's a fear response, like, I'm going to take this offer, because nobody else has offered anything yet. And if I don't take this offer, then I might miss the boat. But you had the wherewithal to say, this is what I want. This is my goal. These are the conditions you weren't stuck on a mechanism or a path. But you knew when something fit, but not quite right. And you said no. And something better came along. Can you speak to that a little bit?
Yeah, I did second guessed myself, but it just it didn't feel right the first time. And so I kept going. And then there was one day where we were about to have a group call. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I haven't done anything this week toward my goal. And so I went online, I did some researching and I pivoted, and I started researching in a different way. And I focused on the poetry aspect, not necessarily just the publisher, and I found a small publisher on the East Coast that specializes in poetry. And I reached out to them right before our call. And I heard back like an hour after her call, I have goosebumps, Asiatic chicken skin right now we do we do.
And that's the thing. That's the beautiful thing when you go on this journey and what we're learning and I say what we're learning is because we never really get it, we never acquire all the knowledge there is We're on a journey. And we're expanding our awareness and growth. So I'm on this journey with you as a coach, but also as a learner, too. And one of the things that I teach and that you've learned, and I want to get into this later, because you're teaching other people now. And that solidifying these lessons that you've learned, is trusting yourself, trusting your intuition. And it's heartbreaking to me, when I talk to people, and their goal and their vision, they have their own vision. But a big part of it is I just want to trust myself, it's like they have this lack of trust in their intuition and their abilities, and their thought processes. And building up that confidence is crucial. And it served you well in this journey, because, you know, one could take their rejections as rejection. But another way to look at it is it's not the right path. And it helped you pivot in the moment. And you followed your gut instinct, you followed and trusted your intuition and it guided you down this path, you got an answer right away. And sometimes it can feel magical. It's not magical. It's just its energy. Its energy. And it's you. And I'll talk about this in future episodes, but it's gold priming, and you operating on the unconscious subconscious level, your mind is directing you toward your goal, even if you're not consciously and actively doing that. And so it's it's a skill that you can learn and I'm so happy for you that you applied it and so where are you at now with with your project?
I am at a place where I've developed my website and then one of the Other things that happened that was just a beautiful accident is I was talking to my sister one day about the project in the book and my whole book, the idea is give center donate. Because the book is a very calming and beautiful thing where you can take it, you can get away from everything for a few minutes and just immerse yourself in the location of the book. And my sister came, came back to me one day and said, Have you thought about doing a GoFundMe campaign? Because I said, I wanted to get it out to people in nursing homes and shut ins, and anyone who just needs to de stress a little bit. And she said, start a GoFundMe campaign. And when people donate, you can send the book to a hospital, and is like, my head broke open. It's like, wow, this is an amazing idea. And so my goal just became 1000 times bigger.
Oh my gosh, yes, starting from, you wanted to share your poetry with friends, to this philanthropic mission, where you're helping, you know, people in nursing homes and people in hospitals, just elevating them and elevating their energy to a higher vibration, and just helping them feel wonderful. Ah, I love that. Congratulations. And I'm gonna have the link to your website, on our show notes so that people can go to your site can order a book can donate, see the beautiful work and the art and the poetry that's there. And it really is a lovely book. And I'm so grateful, I have my copy and donated copies. It's beautiful. And so congratulations on that. I wanted to go into kind of some side effects of you working on yourself and working toward your goal, and even transitioning into the ripple effect that it's having in your work. And even at home. Can you talk about that a little bit, because it's, that's not a goal that you had per se. But some wonderful things have morphed as a consequence of you expanding your awareness and working on yourself.
Yeah, there's a couple of really positive benefits that I've had. And some of the training we did, you know, I kept getting in my own way, it was in my head worrying about what other people were thinking of me. And instead, now I focus my energy on my future memories, you know, seeing myself as this author, seeing myself as a leadership, trainer coach, and I do that at work. And a couple of things that have happened. One is one of the lessons was to focus on someone who you have trouble relating to, and, you know, sending positive energy their way instead of avoiding the person positively engaging. And that was a huge win at work. But in addition to that, is using these different techniques, and helping my my fellow co workers improve their leadership skills. And I've been doing that for about three years now. And I've been able to pull in a lot of the training that we've done together in other readings that I've done. And we've seen a huge improvement in morale and productivity at work.
That's incredible. And, you know, I have to give you a shout out because you got a couple of speaking engagements, two high level speaking engagements as a result of that, too. I'm bragging on you.
Appreciate that. And that's a couple of years ago, in my growth, I wanted to apply to speak at this national safety conference. And it's a national, it's actually an international safety conference. And last year was the first time is the third time I've applied. But first time I got approved to speak and I've already recorded my session because I'm in a virtual session. But it was a really amazing growth opportunity. I was scared to death to do it, you know, you just, you know, that goal, right? You're nauseous and excited. And I was able to do it. And so it's going to be aired in June and later this month.
That's phenomenal. You know, it's, you've taken a goal, the one that you thought you you wanted and you started with and through working on yourself and expanding your leadership. It's blown up into this published book, this philanthropic endeavor, you are improving the lives of everyone you touch and work with in your office and you're doing international speaking engagements. And another side effect too. And I think this is important for our listeners to know when you invest in yourself. And I'm not talking about education, intellectual information that and we do need that to trust me. I believe in education. It's important, but I'm talking about working on yourself understanding what makes you tick, and what are some of your driving motivators or mental roadblocks that are stopping you from stepping into your fullest potential, the impact of that can be enormous. So it's far reaching, not just in your organization, but in your industry and across industries and in other fields as well with your art. So, an investment in yourself or an in as an employer, making an investment in your people, it pays huge dividends with the morale, the creativity in the organization, but also in cost savings to because I recall, you talking with your leadership, they were looking at bringing in people from the outside to teach some of these concepts, and you stepped in to teach a lot of these leadership concepts, you know, the best way to learn something and solidify it is to learn it, and then teach it to somebody else. So, you know, the impact has been huge.
Yeah, in addition to the local training I've been doing back in December, I think it was, they were asking if we had any good ideas for who to bring in. And then, because we had had a bad experience in the past with one. And so I just I stepped, I took a deep breath. And I sent an email to our VP of safety and said, I would like to offer my services, I said, I've done this training before, you know, it just brings in a lot of the different thought leaders in the area. And I'd be willing to do this. And so then they responded, they said, Okay, let's try this, let's do a quarterly training, you know, an hour at a time. And this training is offered across the country, to everyone, and we do it on Zoom. And, you know, it's just little tweaks here and there. And one of the things I learned too, is that I'm very analytical, and I had to let the analytical go by the side, and realize that how you feel toward other people, and how you relate to them is the biggest driver in leadership. It's not what you know, it's how you make them feel.
Yeah, you are having such a tremendous impact in around everyone, you come in contact, and I'm so thrilled for you, and, and for our listeners, you know, Mary was working in a job that she already loved. And she transformed and reinvented a lot of aspects of herself and kind of morphed dovetailed everything together into something that aligns with her, you know, her, her art, her artistic ability, her creativity, that analytical and creative side, that people aspect in the leadership that she's learning, everything that's coming together to really enhance a wonderful and beautiful life. And you can do that for yourself, too. So, you know, a lot of times, we talk about, you know, reinventing yourself, and a lot of times people will assume you have to kind of leave and abandon where you are now and totally create something new, but you can create something new, right where you are. And it starts with your outlook. And that's it.
Yeah, I there's no way I could have just said, Oh, I'm gonna quit my job and become a photographer. Even though you know, that's a passion of mine. But I love what I do at work also, so but I found a way to make it even better. By bringing in these other things and sharing them with everyone at work.
I love that. And so Mary, for those listeners who might be in a job that they like, and they also have other passions that they want to start pursuing, and maybe they don't think they have the time to do both. What advice would you give them? How would you have them start on this journey?
I think for me, it was just letting go of things that you don't have to do that don't have high importance to you. A lot of times we we do things to just check them off our list, but you have to look at okay, is this really important to me? Is this is this is needed. There was a day I was a couple years ago, I was sitting at the dining room table right where I am right now. And I'd been here for a couple hours. And I was writing poems and and it was a weekend and I looked over at my husband, I said I could do this every day of my life. And it was that was the moment I knew is like this, I need to be honoring this side of me and not pushing it aside and thinking I don't have enough time for it.
Yeah, I love that. You said you need to honor the side of you. Because we think we can compartmentalize, but honestly we bring our whole self to work and wherever we go. And if we're going to work, and we're pinching off and shutting off a small part of us, it's still there. But subconsciously, it's having an impact. And it might be that frustration might be leaking out somewhere and self doubt, or lashing out or at somebody or holding ourselves back in one area. So, you know, honoring all aspects of us to feel aligned. And I love that you did that.
Yeah, it made a huge difference. I've, I just feel like I've grown so much in the last three, four years. And now I see. So it's just boundless. You know, there's so many things I think I can do now. Matter of fact, I even print my art, and I hang it in my house as inspiration.
I love that. Yeah. Well, I'm so thrilled that you took the time to join us. It's wicked early in Hawaii right now. And I'm just honored that you are able to share your story, our listeners are going to get so much value from that they're going to hear themselves in your story. And Mary's contact information, her website and all that stuff will be in the show notes. So again, thank you so much. We're going to head off and do the way we always end our shows with our guided inspirational meditation. But I wanted to just take the time to thank you again for joining us today.
So glad to be here. This has been wonderful.
Awesome. All right. Well, we're gonna end today's episode the way we always do, and I want you to start thinking about what if? What if you could have it all? What if you could have the career you love and the time to pursue the things that really light your fire? What if you could reinvent your work in a way that reinvigorates you and you could dovetail all of the things that you love that make you whole, into into one beautiful thing. And you feel like you're serving your purpose, anything's possible. What would that feel like? So start by just taking a deep inhale through your nose,
and exhaling. Take another deep inhale. And exhale. Take one more deep inhale, holding it for a second, and then releasing any tension that you might be holding on to.
And ask yourself this question. What if I could have it all? Rather than ask yourself? What would that look like? Just imagine imagine having the time and the energy to discover or rediscover some of your passions, some of the things that maybe you used to do that brought you joy that somehow just kind of got swept to the side.
Those talents and abilities, they're still in there. You can tap into them at any time. And what if, and what would it look like? If you could leverage those talents in a way that brought more joy to the work you're already doing?
What ripple effect could that have for the people around you?
It all starts with just simply giving yourself permission. Right here, right now. To entertain the possibility of what if. Just sit with that question for a moment or two. And as ideas float to your consciousness write them down. They don't have to make sense. Don't judge them. Just write them down. And this is what we call taking inspired action when we are in harmony with entertaining the possibility of a new future a new goal. And when ideas float to your consciousness, those are in harmony with what you want. So follow that curiosity, follow those cues. And that's what taking inspired action is all about. And that will close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. That's what getting out of the rat race begins with. And that's why we end every episode in this way. I want to thank you again for joining us today. And if you enjoyed today's episode, I would love to hear your comments. So whatever platform you listen to podcasts on, follow us subscribe on YouTube, leave your comments a five star review. I do read them. And until next week, remember, everything is created twice, first in your mind and then in your imagination and physical form. So I can't wait to see you next week. Have a wonderful week and we'll see you again on rat race reboot.
The views and opinions expressed by the hosts guests or callers of this program do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the studio 21 podcast cafe, the United Podcast Network, its partners or affiliates.
Mary is originally from Buffalo New York (and a Bills fan) who now lives in Hawaii. She has worked in jobs ranging from environmental science to criminalist to safety manager. She started being coached 3 years ago and reached her first major goal last year by publishing her book Virtual Vacation.