How OKCupid Launched An Arrow Toward My Dreams

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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It took me a while to pick out my username. I wanted it to reflect my spirit and to be memorable and fun, since this was an online dating site, and my username and profile photo would be the first glimpse potential suitors would get of me.

Online Dating Helped Me Live My Dream

I picked out a photo of myself in a blue sparkling backless gown from a dance event I had attended, since this is of course my everyday attire. Okay, maybe not. But I figured, might as well make a good first impression!

Of course, I included other profile pictures of me in slightly more casual outfits, like when I was “Miss Troy” for an event and dressed in an Uncle Sam hat, short red dress, white vinyl jacket and white go-go boots.

Okay, maybe there were a few “normal” photos of me in jeans as well. In any event, I had fun filling out the profile.

Throwing the Net Wide Again

This wasn’t my first foray ever into online dating, but I was diving back into the pool after some time away from it. I’d experimented with eharmony before, and met some men with whom I am still friends, but not found any lasting relationships through it.

And the dating pool available on eharmony seemed to be smaller in my geographic region of upstate NY. I tended to find myself dating men living in my former home, San Francisco, when relying on eharmony.

My brother recommended OKCupid because he’d had some luck with it recently. It’s free, he said, and you could customize your searches for matches, and they use a lot of interesting algorithms to calculate a match.

I was still a bit heart-broken after my break-up with my boyfriend around Valentine’s Day. Three months had passed and I was still feeling sad. I knew I needed to do something to cheer myself up, and what could be better than joining a new dating site that would remind me that there are indeed many fish in the sea?

Luckily, I found that OKCupid yielded many interesting matches within 25 miles of me. Amazing!

And, even better, it  inadvertantly helped me answer a question I’d let percolate for months about my “Zone of Genius,” after reading a book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Hendricks encourages us to reflect on the question of what work lies within our “Zone of Genius” ~ what is the work that we are not merely competent at, good at, or even excellent at, but that is simply our unique gift to offer to the world?

What I’m Really Good At

After plugging in the basics, OKCupid has a few essay-style questions you can answer that are open-ended. One simply asks you to describe what you are really good at.

What am I really good at? At first, I wrote down what usually pops to the top of my mind: I’m a good writer and dancer. I pick up foreign languages quickly. I’m good at math.

Then I thought… No, what am I really good at? Unusually so? What is my “Zone of Genius”?

I wrote: “making people feel loved and appreciated.” That is something I do exceptionally well!

In fact, it feels like part of my life’s mission to help others, especially women, to recognize their own value. A big part of living our dreams is believing that we can, and to believe in our dreams, we need to believe that we are worthy of achieving them and having what we want in life.

Which Is Why Blogging Here Makes Sense!

Thus, why I have always been so happy to be part of 8womendream.

And, why I am currently building my business as a life coach, and completing my memoir, Burning Down the House, which tells my own story of recovering from trauma, sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and building a life I love.

For me, it’s really all about helping others, especially women, heal themselves and their lives. I enjoy helping people “find the Divine” within ~ tapping into their own deeper sense of inner wisdom, higher purpose, love and light.

I truly believe that everyone already has within them all that they need to live all their dreams, be happy in this world, and make a positive contribution to society.

By accident, just by following my heart and stumbling along the winding path as it led me forward, I have discovered that I’m unusually good at helping others shine their light.  Part of this includes helping people gain clarity on the vision for what they want to achieve ~ zeroing in on their heart’s desires for their lives ~ and then translating this into both long-term and short-term goals, and action steps.

And it’s about helping women to love themselves exactly as they are now, and to love the journey. All of this can be summarized as helping others live their happiest lives.

This may just be my  “Zone of Genius.” I think I’ve finally found it!

(And, thank you OKCupid for accidentally helping to fill in another piece of the formula for me to live my dreams!)

Inspired By A Fellow Dreamer

It was a post by a fellow dreamer, Catherine Hughes, that inspired me to write this particular post. In her blog this past Sunday about remembering to breathe while living our dreams, she shared this quote by Dr. Adrianne Ahern:

“I have always believed that each one of us has a gift to offer – a special unique gift. A mentor of mine once wrote, ‘It is through the finding and giving of this gift that we may come to know the joy that lies at the center of both the dark times and the light’…”

I have found this to be true in my life. When I am doing what I am best at and giving from my heart, I do find that I live in a zone in which I experience a joy that “lies at the center of the dark times and the light…”

For me, that is helping to support others in creating their happiest lives. In fact, I teach workshops called “Creating Your Happiest Year Yet” in which we work on long-term and short-term visions and goals. My life coaching clients tend to get dazzling results in their lifes, often achieving lifelong goals in seemingly miraculous ways and accelerated time frames.

I seem to be really good at this! And, I love this work.

Finding and recognizing the “genius” in ourselves is central, I believe, to living our dreams and creating what we want in life.

What is Your Zone of Genius?

In his book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks asks readers to reflect on their “Zone of Genius” using the following four “Genius Questions”:

  1. What do I most love to do? (I love it so much I can do it for long stretches of time without getting tired or bored.)
  2. What work do I do that doesn’t seem like work? (I can do it all day long without ever feeling tired or bored.)
  3. In my work, what produces the highest ratio of abundance and satisfaction to the amount of time spent? (Even if I do only ten seconds or a few minutes of it, an idea or a deeper connection may spring forth that leads to huge value.)
  4. What is my unique ability? (There’s a special skill I’m gifted with. This unique ability, fully realized and put to work, can provide enormous benefits to me and any organization I serve).

My OKCupid essay helped me to crystallize it that giving people their own sense of value, helping to reflect it back to them, is something that I am gifted at. And, extrapolating from there, I really feel as though this vague notion I have had for years of wanting to be a “Joy Teacher” actually is my calling. I feel like I am here not just to live my own happy life, but to help others create lives that they genuinely love.

I didn’t used to believe that I was worthy of happiness. Now, I believe that everyone is, and I intend to do everything I can while on this planet to help others find true happiness ~ the kind that comes from the inside, the kind of lasting joy that comes from discovering our own sense of purpose and meaning and giving back our greatest gifts.

What is YOUR Zone of Genius? Spend some time this week journaling about what you are uniquely suited to do! And have fun with it!


Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. She is also a lindy hopper, belly dancer and globe-trotter. Her post day is Tuesday.

  • Lisa – thanks for the steps to find my Zone of Genius… I’ll have to get this started. I love Cath’s talk radio idea. No pressure!

    – H

  • Jayne Speich, Financial Assistance

    Great post, Lisa. The part about stumbling into your zone of greatness spoke especially to me. Sometimes a person can feel like they’re wandering in the desert, blindly looking for the path, when blamm-o, there it is right under foot. There must indeed be something divine that leads, if we will follow. Here’s a line from one of my all-time favorite poems, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other,” by William Stafford. It’s always reminds me to pay attention.
    “And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
    but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
    I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
    to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.”

  • I love this blog! Just keep in mind that the free websites are usually aimed towards 20-30 year olds that just want new friends, want to hang out, or even just have no strings attached fun. The paid membership websites are usually the ones that actually give more quality options for longer relationships. I would recommend you approach dating like a marketing project. Figure out the type of man you want, including age, education and hobbies. Then figure out where that man likes to go relax. Is he an executive who spends a great deal of time at 5-star hotel bars & restaurants? Could he be a golfer who enjoys an early Saturday morning round of golf? Is he a reader who would attend book signings-lectures? Does he hang out at a local coffee shop at 6 in the morning? Is he learning to get his pilots license? Once you figure out where your type likes to hang out, then go hang out there. Remember it’s a numbers game and be very clear about what you want up front. Good luck!! Kat

  • We have seen your sadness, but have not said anything since personal relationships can be, well, deeply personal.

    I agree 10,000% that your greatest asset is “making people feel loved and appreciated”. You have no idea how much your comments are missed when you are busy away from 8 Women Dream.

    Now here is something for you to ponder . . . either we initiate a live chat and set up sessions, or we get the Blog Talk Radio account going again and you can either have a weekly chat, or a weekly radio show from 8WD where you help people “feel loved and appreciated” once a week so that they can step out from behind their fear and go after their dreams.

    I’m just sayin . . .

    Think it over, Red.

    Cath ;-)