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One time, in the middle of a painful breakup, my coach told me that one day, even moments like these would seem wondrous.   I sort of knew what he meant…but mostly I wanted to tell him to shove it.

My heart was hurting and I didn’t want to think about anything but that.  I was quite happy in the murky muckety-muck of my post-break up mood, thank you very much.  But even in the midst of my tears and wondering how I was going to face the day on Monday I could see some wondrous things emerging right before my eyes.  My sister was uber-supportive…not that she hadn’t been before, but this was in a new & lovely way.

When my friend Eric texted to see how I was dealing with the break up.  When I responded with “I could use a hug.  And a sandwich,” he showed up with both.

Sometimes a sandwich is like a hug with a slice of ham in the middle.

I knew I was surrounded by love…but it took losing love to find that out.  To see I WAS surrounded by love that I hadn’t recognized before…and to really, REALLY get it.  I told my coach he was right…everything (even break-ups) can be wondrous if we choose to see them that way.

This memory came flooding back to me when one of my very best penny finders, the fabulous Ms. Ellie, sent me the following e-mail message a few weeks ago.

Sometimes we are able to find our way out of the muck & into the wonder when a friend brings us a sandwich (and a hug).  Other times, it’s a penny (or even a DIME) that reminds us, “Yeah…there is magic in my life…and I’m going to let it in!”

Many thanks to Ellie for agreeing to share this story as it is personal & full of raw emotion.  But that’s just the kind of girl she is.  And probably why she finds so many pennies…she’s open to the magic.  May her willingness to share her story be the magic that helps you see the wonder in your own life!!

A Note from Ellie:

Hi Leslie,

WOW! Have I had a crazy few weeks?!  Please bear with me as I recount the longest penny story I’ve ever told.

It all started at the end of January.  I met a guy online and we went out…it went really well! We were seeing each other every few days for a couple of weeks.  It was GREAT!  Not a way I’ve ever dated before…but it was so much FUN!  There were voices in my head saying “Stop!” And then there were voices saying, “Go! Go! Go!”  I went.

It was unbelievable!  I allowed myself to let go and I let someone in for the first time.

Fast forward to last night.  We had a date but things were definitely weird.  I just felt it.  I was so uncomfortable at dinner. I couldn’t figure it out (or I didn’t want to).  When we left the pub he said the dreaded words…”we need to talk.”

And then it happened.  He broke up with me.

I wasn’t even sure it was a “break up” since we’d only known each other for 19 days (yes I counted among the tears last night).  He said he couldn’t handle a relationship right now.  I yelled a little…tried to question him a bit (I just didn’t see this coming). But that was that.  It was over.

I went home and freaked out accordingly.  I’d never had any one break up with me before.  Mostly because I’d never allowed myself to get into a situation where someone had the option of breaking up with me.  Big step, big life moment.  But it really hurts!

I reached out to a good friend and unfortunately, she caught the brunt of my heartache.  She let me scream to her over the phone and sometimes she screamed right back.  Very cathartic.  I felt a whole jumble of emotions…embarrassment, foolishness, and a bit of idiocy.  Eventually my friend told me to shut up and realize what this experience did for me and what it means.  Everything happens for a reason!

Anyway, this morning I woke up for another crying session around 5AM.  At that moment, I decided not to go to work today.

I decided to have a day for ME.  My heart was hurting and I needed time to let it heal.

After bumming around a bit, I decided it was time for breakfast.  I jogged my mind (and my appetite) to figure out what I wanted.  Then it hit me…French Toast with caramelized bananas & strawberries.

YES!

And I knew just the place.

Next I needed to find a friend.  I could have gone alone, but I knew I needed some good human interaction.  I signed into g-mail and saw my friend Jason online.  Perfect.  He’s an old high school friend and even though we don’t hang out one-on-one much anymore, we’ve always been close.  I checked to see if he was available and he was, so we made a plan to meet for breakfast.

I think this breakfast ranks in my top three of all time.  Good food for sure…but even better was the AMAZING conversation and insights.  It was just what I needed.

We were still talking up a storm when we finished breakfast so we decided to go for a walk.  I check my parking meter and see I have 31 minutes…perfect time for a nice walk around the Square.

A walk designed by the 31 minutes left on a parking meter ended up being just what was needed to see the magic in a situation that felt less than magical!

We set off and while we were walking and talking I found two pennies!  Then I found two more!  I told Jason all about The Penny Project and you and the ½-dollar & $7.00 I’d found already in 2011.  He loved it! And it fit right into what we’d been talking about at breakfast.  Growing, learning, observing, manifesting…amazing.  And then I found some more pennies.  And he found a DIME!  We kept walking and talking and then…I found a DIME!

By the time we got back to his car, we’d found 29 cents (2 dimes & 9 pennies) between the two of us.  By the time I got back to my car, I’d found two more pennies.  31 cents in a 31 minute walk around Somerville.  It was the greatest penny find I have ever experienced.  It was TRULY magical.  MAGICAL!  You are magical and the work you are doing is so important.

By the way…Jason is hooked! So enthused about the whole project!  I’m going to send him your website and he is going to keep finding pennies!  I’ll send you his dime with my next stash!

I hope you are having a fantastic Friday! 

Love,
Ellie

Over at The Penny Project Facebook page today, there was a nod to one of the world’s greatest authors, Dr. Seuss.

“BE who you ARE, and say what you feel, because those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.” –Dr. Seuss ~~So do what you do & find what you find. Shout, “PENNY!” with glee…who cares if “they” mind?! Life is too short not to holler & play. So how will YOU make the most of today?!

It’s almost impossible not to be in a good mood when you think about the world Dr. Seuss created in his books.  Whimsical, fun & full of adventure.  Although sometimes the places you’ll go on your adventure will be a bit daunting and might stop you dead in your tracks for awhile.

That is what happened when I sat down with my one employee (otherwise known as my mom) to plot a path for The Penny Project in 2011.  A total ker-plunk.  No sizzle.  No juice.  Not even a penny’s worth.

At first it was disheartening.  Frustrating.  Infuriating, even!  Where did all the zip & heart I have for this project go?!  And why, when I FINALLY have someone willing to help me move it forward can I not conjure up what I need to in order to get us moving?

Hrumph.

But then, in Dr. Seuss-like form…our ‘Booooos’ turned to ‘Yahooooos’ and something magical happened.

And now, with some help from Dr. Seuss himself (from his book The Places You’ll Go), I’ll recount the tale and the lesson we learned.  Just another day in the life of a penny enthusiast!  🙂


The Places Pennies Will Help You Go…

Dr. Seuss meets Ms. Penny Project...Oh, the places they'll go!!

“I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups & Hang-ups can happen to you.”

And so it happened when my mom came to help.  “I have no ideas!” I cried with a yelp.

We’d carved out some time to kick it into high gear.  To plan Penny Project success for the coming year.

“Boy-oh-boy!!”  I’d thought when the idea was planned.  But when we sat down to do it, we felt stagnant & canned.

No “boy-oh-boy” showed up on that day.  It was more like a Grinch-like place of dismay.

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

We tried & we tried.  We gave all we had.  We got nowhere fast…and then we were sad.  Is this what it’s like to work on something you love?  Does making it “work” feel like you’re getting a shove?  Or a kick in the pants or being dragged up a hill?  Like your ideas and your thoughts add up to nil?

Well…that’s how it felt to us.

Until Mom was stuck by a flash of A-HA!.  “What if we’re not supposed to plan anything at all?  What if we have fun and see where it goes?  What if we let it naturally unfold?  Isn’t that how the whole thing got started?  Why has that theory up & departed?  Could that be our way to success?  Not normal or standard…but it’s how we work best!”

“Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.”

Well…I DID always want to be on Oprah.

So we set aside our markers and pens…and let go of our concepts of losses & wins.  Instead we just played and did what was fun…cutting clips from magazines that could inspire someone!  We flipped & we snipped for hours on end.  Now THIS is how to make progress, my friend!!

And so there we were, at the end of the day.  Vision boards complete, having done nothing but PLAY!

We laughed our good-byes and vowed to do it again…but how would we count this?  A loss or a win?  Could life be so simple and lived with such ease?  Could we really just play & do as we please?  Would such practices bring a great life with success or would we end up just creating a mess?

“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

And so we concurred that such was the plan.  To just get on going & to see where we land.  If the journey is joy-filled and causes minimal fuss, ANY destination is just fine with us!



Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.  Not only am I blessed with daily reminders of the abundance in my life by the pennies that find their way into it…but the people that come with them are often amazing teachers with powerful messages to share!  Sharon Leman is one such woman!!  She’s a brilliant coach, speaker & story-teller who’s message is one of loving yourself and the power you tap into when you do this.  Could there be a better message?!  Me thinks not!!

 

Sharon Leman Founder, IgniteAbility Coaching & LOL--Leader of Love

 

 

So without further ado…let me introduce you to my amazing friend & teacher, Sharon…and what SHE learned from pennies this week!

Sharon’s Story:

I have to tell you a remarkable penny story.

Yesterday, I was filling out an application form that asked me the question “what makes you special?”  At first blush, this seemed to me to be a very difficult question to answer.  So, I enlisted the help of my coach to help me through this and other questions such as:  What is the most creative project you have ever worked on?

What I discovered was a deep well of things.  I felt remarkably settled and bursting with energy because the exercise allowed me the opportunity to take good stock of myself.  And, the most surprising thing was that I was humbled by the experience – the very opposite of my fear that the exercise would feed my ego!

 

Mary Baker Eddy--Author of the book "Science & Health" and founder of the Christian Science Religion.

 

I rode this settling and exhilarating energy throughout the day.  That evening, I had some time to reflect on the idea of being “Rich in Spirit.”   I was inspired by a quote from an incredible leader and pioneering woman named Mary Baker Eddy, known for her groundbreaking ideas about spirituality & health, which said:

“The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood …”

What struck me was the realization that I am rich in spirit!  This realization felt especially important because I had been looking at my bank accounts and they certainly don’t reflect my richness, which was getting me down.

Suddenly, I realized that as long as I spend time worrying about how much money is in my bank accounts, I’m using up the energy I need to fulfill my life’s purpose and actually turning away from my richness of spirit.  When I am grounded in my richness of spirit, I feel wealthy.  Knowing this, I can claim with conviction, “I AM RICH!”

 

Finding the pennies was like a God-nod, a Universe flirt signifying abundance!!

 

Well, this morning, I’m walking with a friend and telling her the story I just told you, and just as I’m finishing the story, we round a corner and she stops me, bends down and picks up two shiny pennies – one for me and one for her!  It was like a God-nod, a Universe flirt, signifying abundance and opportunity in the face of two shiny new pennies!  They’re even dated 2010!

The synchronicity of that event reminded me that I must keep my focus on the fact that I AM rich in spirit, we are ALL rich in spirit, and that once we know that, everything else will fall into place!

Take the blinders off & look around!! Life's offering you joy at every turn. Are you able to SEE it?!

Sometimes I get notes from penny finders that absolutely make my day.  Pictures of finds, words of encouragement about my penny-finding obsession, or stories of my freinds’ own penny obsessed lives!   But sometimes the notes are way more than just a story.  Sometimes they get right to the HEART of what this project is all about.  And those notes…they make my week! 

This one was one such note.  A penny finding friend of a friend whom I’ve never even met in person but who clearly gets why it’s important to pay attention to the little joys life brings us! 

A big thanks to you, Sebouh for seeing the magic a penny can bring.  You didn’t just make my week…you made my month!  😉

Leslie,
 
I spoke to Nicole earlier this evening about the power of the penny and what it has meant to me in the past few weeks.  I explained to her that to me, the symbolism and act of manifesting the pennies or change, is the process that has been so impactful to me thus far.
 
It comes at a time where there is a fair amount of change going on in my life.  I am so excited about all of the change that I don’t know what to do.  Sometimes, I don’t know who to share the change with.  Just today, on my way to my sister’s house I was able to spot change while I was driving!  I pulled over, made sure I wasn’t about to get hit by oncoming traffic and honed in on the quarter that I spotted from my driver seat.  Then I continued to peruse the street and found another quarter and 3 more dimes.  It was quite astonishing and as I explained to Nicole earlier tonight, the grin on my face could have lit up a small village.
 
In short, (and I really mean in short) I wanted to share with you how much it has meant for me to be a part of this program.
 
Listen to how I worded it, program.
 
It’s not a program.

You don’t have to sign-up.
 
There is no fee required.
 
It empowers you to open your eyes – WIDER

And soak in more than you have previously.
 
It’s a wonderful thing and so I thank you.
 
Cheers!

It's not everyone who's friends are willing to brave public restrooms in the name of coin finding. But my friends are high quality...and they frequently have to pee! 🙂

I really think I might be the luckiest person alive.  Not only do I have friends finding pennies and thinking about me when they do…but they often share their adventures with me via text, voicemail, or by actually delivering their found coins to me.

But my friend Rick took it to a whole new level.  Sure, some might consider it a LOWER level…but I consider this friendship in the truest sense!!  Just check out the e-mail I got with the attached photo.  If you were fuzzy on the location of the dime…the e-mail says it all!

Rick’s notes from the field (April 11, 2010)

Going the extra mile….Yes that is a toilet bowl.

R

Sent via BlackBerry

Thanks, Rick, for being a trooper in the world of penny finding!

I haven't actually SEEN Ellie's infamous green penny yet but had to see if I could find a green penny on google. Sure enough...here was a good one. Although I get the feeling it's not nearly as good as Ellie's!

Nothing makes me happier than logging into my facebook page and seeing comments about finds from my friends.  ESPECIALLY when they post gems like this:

Ellie’s Notes from the field (April 28, 2010)

Here’s my latest penny story:

I walk to work the same way everyday, I’m definitely a creature of habit. This makes looking for pennies interesting, because when I find one I wonder how many days I’ve walked by it before I could see it. Yesterday, I was at the corner of 14th and P Street waiting to cross, I look down and see this green circle. I hesitate and then decide it’s gum not a penny. I cross the street and continue my journey to Starbucks.

This morning, I’m walking as I always do and I find a nice shiny penny at 14th and Rhode Island. This reminds me of the gum from yesterday, I just can’t seem to let it go. I walk to 14th and P look down, still there. Still looks like gum, but I say to hell with it, and pick it up. IT WAS A PENNY! The most oxidized, old, dirty penny, but a penny nonetheless. Just goes to show you can never be sure and it doesn’t hurt to get a little dirty.

Best. Penny. Ever.

 Yeah, it’s official.  I have the greatest friends on the planet!  Or should I say…

Best. Friends. EVER!

“The secret of vast riches begins with a penny”

That’s what the fortune read in Grace’s cookie when she went out for a girls’ dinner at Pei Wei the other night.  Of course, she couldn’t resist sending me a picture of the actual fortune…which I ADORE!!!  I’d share it with you here…but apparently this program doesn’t speak “bitmaps.”

But what I can share with you here is that this philosophy is exactly how The Penny Project has unfolded over the last three fun-filled years I’ve been doing it…one penny at a time! 

What I’ve found is that by focusing on the little things, the next step, or just sharing my joy about where I am right NOW in the penny journey…bigger, better things have unfolded.  In fact, by sharing my penny bliss in the leadership program I’m in, I’ve been invited to attend the Social Entrepreneur Alliance Summit in San Francisco later this month.  I’ve even got some fancy-schmancy new business cards printed up for the event that convey the best things really DO come in small packages! 

My goal is to work with non-profits & small companies doing great things to help them find the “pennies” they may be overlooking in their environment (staff skills, connections, untapped resources).  Won’t that be fun?!

So, don’t go out today looking for a million dollars or wondering if you have the ability to find/earn something that big.  Instead, go out KNOWING there are pennies all around you and that noticing them is the first step towards a life of good fortune!