This is such an interesting question to start with as I'm at a point in my life where the question of "Who I Am" is constantly evolving and moving away from anything I've ever thought I was. For starters, I am on a deeply committed to the Path with the end goal of reaching enlightenment. From Liberia, West Africa, I am a corporate lawyer turned writer and I reside in Miami, Florida. I've been practicing law for about seven years, starting with working for an international firm in Miami. I started my own law firm in 2006.
Early this year I started writing my blog, "Coming Out of Survival," when my Dharma unfolded itself to me. Based on the challenges I face, I write about all aspects of survival living stemming from The Path including self-realization and discovery, self-improvement, self-empowerment, positive thinking, overcoming fears and limiting beliefs, transforming my life from within and thereby enabling me to live my ideal life and best life yet. The aim of my blog as well as my upcoming book, Coming Out of Survival with Grace, is to share with others my own personal experiences of struggle and survival while on my journey and how I, through The Path, am transforming my life as I enable others to transform their lives, too. Ultimately, we should all live our ideal lives. There are many lives: lives of thriving, purpose and passion; lives of abundance, fulfillment, service, manifestation, no limitations, and freedom. We can all live lives of Grace -- being, having, and doing it all.
I would advise others to go within themselves and discover who they really are. So many of us spend all of our lives living out the dreams of our parents or other family members and/or live according to other people's expectations that we have absolutely no clue as to who we are, who we are not, nor do we even know what real gifts and talents lie in wait for us even to begin to live purposefully driven lives. All of the answers we will ever need are inside of us, but we will never ever know that for as long as we keep looking outside ourselves for answers or approval. I would also advise anyone to start giving her own self approval and love. We spend all of our lives seeking love from other people and the love we seek outside of us is right inside of us. Truth is, no one is capable of loving us the way we want to be loved or the way in which we love ourselves.
The most defining moment or experience that inspired me to change my life occurred in the early morning of New Year's Eve last year in 2009. You see, all of my life I have been struggling, barely making it, just getting by, and consistently living in survival mode, time and time again. Everything in my life has been difficult and challenging, especially regarding money issues, until the morning of December 31, 2009, when I made the most important decision of my life.
That morning, I decided that this year, 2010, would be the year I would turn my life around. I was tired of struggling, or “catching hell,” as we say in my native tongue. I was tired of the “BS,” or the Broke Syndrome, as I coined it. I was tired of never having enough money to make ends meet, or to do the things I enjoyed or to be able to afford the things I wanted. I was tired of always being controlled by my lack of finances, of being in debt, barely able to make my mortgage payments or meeting my other financial obligations, or having steady income to live a decent life. The fact that I was self-employed or the state of the economy did not matter and was of no consequence to me. I was tired of feeling unfulfilled, feeling unworthy or undeserving, and also of being alone, as I was single and had not had a meaningful relationship in two years. I was tired of not having a thriving law practice, and feeling like a failure that my ancillary business outside of law had not done as well as I’d hoped. I was tired of pretending not to be stressed, not being happy, keeping up appearances, maintaining the self-image that all was well, not being able to do the things that I want to do with my life, not living the life I’ve always imagined, and just feeling like an utter failure.
I'd been supplementing my earnings taking too many contract legal assignments. So, I resolved to quit. I didn't have another assignment to go to and wasn't looking for one. I was ready to start going in the direction of following my heart's inspiration and to fulfill life-time dreams that I wanted to achieve such as working for the UN. When I left my contract assignment, I began to focus on working for the UN and other NGOs for doing international work. I began filling out the application for the UN and each NGO I wanted to work for. Immediately, Grace started to bring people in my life who had either worked for the UN, UNICEF, or other NGOs who could guide me and offer me assistance in getting into these organizations, which is very difficult to do. Grace also started bringing me more business to sustain me financially while I focused on following my heart's inspiration and seeing where that would lead me. I knew intuitively I had done the right thing. There were something bigger and better in store for me, and more in harmony of what I wanted to become.
As Grace doesn't ignore a sincere calling, one night in January, Coming Out of Survival came to my mind as my life's purpose and this was what I should be doing not alongside law, but instead of law. Even when this revelation came to me, I still didn't do anything about it. I was afraid of exposing myself, and essentially putting my business on the line because, after all, I was still accustomed to wearing many masks, including the masks that "all was well." Soon, though, I realized Grace's directive for me with Coming Out of Survival was that I was going to write about my life, putting everything out there not after I came out of survival, but WHILE and AS I was coming out of survival to help others. Then I wrote my first blog entitled, "Understand Exactly Who You Are."
I sent it to my Guru, a handful of people from my Soul Family on the Path including Ariane and my father. In fewer than ten minutes of sending the email, Ariane was the first to write back asking me to be a blogger for www.first30days.com.
In other words, how do you overcome adversity?My whole life has been one challenge after the other because it's the world that I've created through my thoughts and belief systems. I've created this world of survival with the inherent belief that everything has to be difficult in life in order for one to get ahead. You have to work hard and that anything worth having in life must come through the labor of hard work. This inherent belief has made my life much difficult than what it needed to be; however, as my Dharma has unfolded before me, through my thoughts, I created this life of struggle myself and have come out of it to help others do the same. I am able to overcome adversity due to my strength. The habitual challenges I've had to endure have made me strong. I've had to meet all challenges head on without support, and have handled it all on my own with the amazing Grace of God. To overcome adversity, I've always believed in the saying, "If God brought you to it, God will bring you through it."
I'm so glad you asked this question. Well when I started my firm in 2006, I knew nothing about running a business but I survived the first year. My business was constantly on the ebb rather than the flow of life and I always had difficulty making it. During these times to make ends meet, I would do contract attorney work for agencies and be paid a below the fraction of the costs of what I would charge my own clients. I kept doing these assignments to make ends meet. So, these contract-work assignments would save me somewhat and I would still be running my firm essentially working around the clock.
Shortly after holidays, after making the pact with myself on New Year's Eve to change my life around, I called and put in my notice to terminate the assignment I was working on. At the time, I had no money, no incoming business, no other source of income, and I was behind on every single bill. From my crazy decision to leave the contract work that was eating up all my time, doors began to open up for me. Suddenly, the impossible became possible. Not only did I land on my feet but I'm proud to say that today, I've grown wings and have begun to soar.
You simply have to make your decision and do it. Then trust that you will land on your feet. You must also arrive at the point where your desire to change your current circumstances is so strong that it outweighs your fear of acting. For me, I simply could not continue going on as I was because it really affected every area of my life. I was beyond miserable. I was sad and depressed. I also knew that I was not walking this road alone and that there was someone or something out there walking this road with me who had a much bigger plan than what I will ever be able to conceptualize. All I needed to do was just to let go of the fear and take the first step. I just needed to trust.
First thing I would recommend is to get in touch with your desire and commitment to change. It's not necessarily what practices you use to improve the quality of your life but the intention you bring to your commitment. This is what will carry you through. Once you are in touch with your strong conviction to change and transform, then I would add daily practices beginning with starting each day with a prayer expressing gratitude, praying for guidance, and calling upon the Divine for understanding and clarity upon your life. Next, meditate and set intentions for your life. Get quiet and turn inward to get in touch with your inner spirit. I strongly suggest reading inspirational, positive, motivational material every morning. This is what I do every morning for two hours. My practice also includes mantra practice. I read an assortment of materials: the highest teachings relating to the Path, as well as a myriad of positive daily emails I receive every morning, such as, Mike Dooley's Notes from the Universe, Brian Johnson's Philosopher's Notes, Dumb Little Man, inspiration blogs and so on. It is very important that you feed your mind with positive thinking in the morning as it sets the tone for the rest of your day.
My greatest joy in my life stems from the fact that I am now living my life from a place of inspiration rather then a place of desperation. From this space, life is exciting, fulfilling, fun, intoxicating even. It is just magical.
The most important thing that I would like to pass onto others is that they are the creators of their lives and that their lives are exact mirrors of their thoughts and beliefs. When others change their thoughts, they change their lives. This is the single most important thing I've learned and realized in the last year what a "Game Changer" it's been. Imagine if every child believes at an early age that their thoughts are exactly what is creating their world. Imagine what a different and much better place the world would be.
Eradicate the poverty that plagues the African continent.
Wani Manly is an attorney with the law firm W. Manly, P.A., a boutique corporate and business law firm in which she started in 2006. Originally from Liberia, West Africa, Ms. Manly earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Government/Political Science with a Minor in Sociology in African-American Studies from The University of Texas at Austin, and a Juris Doctorate from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois. She extended her education with international legal studies at Universita Di Parma, Facolta Giurispredenza in Parma, Italy, and Fundacion Universitaria San Pablo- Centro de Estudios Universitarios in Madrid, Spain. In addition, she is also a Masters of Law candidate with a concentration in International Business and Trade Law also at The John Marshall Law School. As an attorney, she is licensed to practice law in both the States of Florida and Illinois. Having a devout passion for dance, Ms. Manly loves to dance like no one’s watching and, as such, is a Certified Zumba® Fitness Instructor. In addition, she is also a Certified Pranic Healer.