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Lynn Cluess Manzione Headshot

Nose to the Grindstone, I Am Leaning In

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I just stumbled onto a new site that looks very promising for my future. It's called LeanIn.org, and I am predicting it will be to me what Oprah's "Favorite Things" have been to those lucky lottery winners that have sat in her audience on that special day. The only difference is, LeanIn.org will be giving me the support I need to get up and off my couch, as opposed to a pair of cozy flannel PJs that will keep me there! Not that I don't love me some cozy flannel PJs.

So how serendipitous it is that as I am getting ready to do a big leaning in of my own (preparing for my first blog post for The Huffington Post), I read Laura Rowley's post on the aforementioned, titled "Sometimes You Have To Lean Back In Order To Lean In." In a nutshell, Rowley's post is about her steadfast pursuit of career advancement, and how despite hard work, crazy hours, and impressive success, she was laid off due to a company merger. The layoff triggered reflection, which whispered in her ear "lean back" -- which, translated, means step away from the insanity, and see where you might put yourself that is slower-paced and forgiving of your home life, but allows for just as much success, if not more! Ms. Rowley's post was written in support of the above-mentioned social network site launched this month by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. Sandberg's baby is described as "an online community committed to offering women inspiration and support in achieving their goals." Which by the way, I love and need!

After reading Rowley's blog post, I was then called to do a background check on Sheryl Sandberg, as I am not really up on who's who in the world, unless they are flashing across my television screen on a regular basis. I could not believe what that little piece of research revealed -- because it was about me! I discovered that I am a serious -- no, make that serial -- underachiever. Both of these women should have hurricanes named after them! Thankfully they are both "leaning in" and on board with that ongoing inspiration and support thing! Hands flailing... Ooh, ooh, me, pick me! (That's me channeling Arnold Horshack.) I am so ready to get caught up in the tailwind of a hurricane!

For me, LeanIn.Org came at a perfect time. Although maybe it would have been better if it slipped into the room back in my schooldays, when I was hiding behind the kid in front of me so I wouldn't get called on. Or when I was sitting in my living room, coming up with all kinds of fabulous ideas for projects that were designed to pacify my creative beast. The beast that apparently was afraid of its own shadow. No matter -- it is here now. When the teacher is ready, the student will come -- even if she is 53. So here goes, I am ready to lean in, and thankful to those that have allowed me to lean on. Yes, Agapi Stassinopoulos -- author of the beautiful book Unbinding The Heart -- I am talking to you!

A few years back I stepped out of my living room and actually coaxed the beast out of its shadow by writing my first book. A Wondrous Journey: A Small Book With Big Lessons is a tribute to a woman who really knew how to lean in. I won't go into to details because I want you to read the book, but suffice it to say, she could have had a hurricane named after her, too. When I found myself in the middle of this unexpected book project, I felt a deep need for the world to know her story, and for her to see what it could mean to others. I knew that could be big, because of what it was meaning to me. She did get to see the book published before she passed away, but as far as the world knowing her story -- well, I haven't reached that goal yet. But I have faith. I also have faith that I might have a few more endeavors I should unleash and push off my couch. I am allowing my reflection of the past 53 years to whisper in my ear, and it's telling me to go ahead -- the beast is not as scary as you think. It is time to lean in!

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