Guest Post by Tama Kieves: There’s Only One Note You Came To Sing

(Note from Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson:
I met Tama at a creativity conference hosted by our mutual publisher.  She gave such a heartfelt, inspiring talk, I requested a guest post.  Enjoy!)

There’s Only One Note You Came to Sing

by Career transition expert and author Tama Kieves

(excerpt from Tama’s book available from Tarcher/Perigee: Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!)

I listen to creative minds, visionaries, and entrepreneurs all day long in my coaching practice and I am moved by the spirit that moves them. Like you, they bounce off walls with ambition, hunger, and frustration. They secretly dream big, because they are big. Still they whisper their most meaningful desires, swallowing hard, as though they are confessing, say, a small hygiene problem or a third head. “I don’t even know if I’ll ever have what I want,” they say.

But I do. I know they are relentlessly drawn to where they belong.

male singerWe don’t choose our wildest dreams. They choose us. They point us toward our natural environment. When we’re not using our deepest gifts, we can feel like trout thrashing about on a dock desperate to find water. It’s that necessary to live our calling.


“You’re just so restless,” my mother, a torch-bearing worshipper of security, used to say to me. I thought wanting to “be all you can be” in life was a good thing, not a personality disorder to cover up with a TV Guide, or a tri-level house in Long Island. But, like many inspired souls, I’ve often felt lonely in my consistent desire for true expression. I’d envy those who could kick back in “normal” lives, enjoy a few burgers at a backyard barbecue and some nice, conventional success.

iu-paperback-coverThey’d fix a garage door, buy a house at the lake, or take a cruise to Alaska, and that would be enough. They didn’t wrestle with some unnamable gravitational pull, a colony of inner voices, or the secret claustrophobia of their own trapped potential. They didn’t need to change the world, chant some mantra, become a brand, or win a Pulitzer or a Grammy. In other words, they could just turn on the news. They didn’t need to be the news.

But a therapist of mine once said she believed my “restlessness” was an essential prerequisite for progress and abundance.

Therapists always say these things, serving up hot cocoa for the soul and wiping our chins, which is why we pay them half our gross income. She explained how restlessness wouldn’t let me fall asleep to the presence of my gifts, and the difference I could make in the world. She saw longing as a wonderful capacity to “stay attuned to what my Inspired Self wanted to become.”
Just so you know, this is why I’ve never fit in at barbecues. I just can’t talk to a financial analyst or a plumber in a Hawaiian shirt and get the words “attune” and “pass the dogs” into the same sentence. “You want more,” said my wise counselor, “because you are more. There’s more in this lifetime for you to become.”


And that’s what I’ll tell you. You have more to give us. You have a built-in, divine assignment to employ all your gifts and to realize your exponential capacity. Your inspired self has bigger fish to fry and it doesn’t perceive any of the limitations that you do. That’s why it graciously kicks you in the ribs at night and tells you to stop dreaming small.

Your desire is the full moon that stirs and pulls the tide. It’s compelling because it’s more real than anything else. You dream of the life that calls you because everything under the sun is hardwired to know where it belongs. You don’t need reasons or evidence when your bones trill with longing. Birds and fish just migrate. Everything living seeks to unfurl its own true nature…

I remember talking to my friend Angela one night. I felt suspicious of my own desire to take my creativity to the next level. I wondered if I’d just watched one too many Oprah shows. Or maybe I wanted bigger success because I was still hunting for approval or love, admittance into some elusive club, an addict on a spree. Hey, I’d been to therapy.

“I wish I could say I wanted to help the world, like Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, and that’s why I was doing this,” I said to Angela. I did want to help, but that didn’t seem to be the fuel in my engine.

“Well, why are you doing this?” she said, with a voice full of love and confidence, encouraging me to sound out possible truths. I cringed as I pinpointed a slippery feeling in the back of my consciousness, something crouching and uncomfortable.

“I want to win,” I said to her, and it felt so ugly and unenlightened, competitive and calculating. Goodbye, Dalai Lama, enter the beast with beady eyes. “I want to win,” I said again. Having confessed it, I decided to explore that naked desire more.

“It’s not that I want tons of money,” I said, though of course I’d welcome a padded bank account.

“What is it?” she said gently.

“It’s not that I want fame, though I wouldn’t mind it,” I admitted.

“Then what is it?” she repeated.

Finally, I felt an encrusted door swing open inside me. I said, “I want to win because I think I have a home run in me.” Everything within me relaxed. “It’s just the note I came to sing,” I said. Then my words and tears just flowed. “I want to be big. I want to be known. It’s the level of expression that I feel like my talent was made for. It’s my note,” I said, looking into her soft brown eyes. “It’s the only note that will feel real to me.”

Then she repeated back to me, “It’s just the note you came to sing.”


thistimeidance-cover-260x420Suddenly my desire didn’t seem so evil or garish anymore, suddenly it wasn’t narcissistic, slimy, or base. It was just the truth. It felt as natural as the inclination to write with my right hand, and love red maple leaves and coffee ice cream, or hate sauerkraut, humidity, and anyone, anywhere, who could wear Lycra and look decent. It felt neutral and ordinary and even involuntary.

I realized then that we don’t get to choose our calling. We get to choose whether or not we will listen to each nudge or flare, whether or not we will believe, and whether or not we will dedicate ourselves to this territory of homecoming within us; but we don’t get to choose which doorway has our name on it, which one swings open for us, into the wild country of heightened capacities, love, and awe.

Suddenly this need for boundless expression and a sweeping life was no longer about my ego. It was about my integrity. It was about staying true to the evolving, amazing life force within. It was simple. I needed to breathe fire so that I could breathe.

I urge you to stay true to your integrity. I urge you to listen to what only you know inside. You dream big because you’re called. Say yes to the ride. You belong in the life of your dreams. And you don’t belong anywhere else.


author_400pxTama Kieves is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School who left her law practice to write and help others discover and soar in the work they’re meant to do. She is the bestselling author of This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love and her new book Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!, which hit #1 on for career books. Featured in USA Today and on Oprah radio, she is a sought-after speaker and career/success/book coach, who has helped thousands world-wide to discover, launch, and thrive in the life, calling and businesses of their dreams. Join her daily on Facebook & visit and download her “Inspired Power Tool Kit“ for free coaching support for the amazing life that you are meant to live.

NYC Publishing & Creativity Conference for Writers

The NYC Publishing & Creativity Conference

New Yorkers – get motivated to live a more creative life!

Logo-cropped-300x221The New York City Publishing & Creativity Conference for Writers is the first conference of its kind ever to be hosted by a major book publisher.  In this conference you will:

* Gain access to publishing professionals from the largest publishing company in the world

* Be inspired by JULIA CAMERON, the #1 bestselling creativity author in the world

* Learn from our creativity and publishing experts, including Tama KievesBarbara Diane Barry, Mari Mancusi, and others

Meet with editors and other publishing veterans*

* Enjoy networking with other writers

* Learn about building your author platform, and using it to make your book a bestseller

Frequently Asked Questions


with Discount Code: TARCHERLIVE MAR



3:00 – 4:00pm – Pre-registration for premiere ticket holders; editor pitch session times will be assigned during this pre-registration

4:00-6:00pm – Editor pitch sessions (15-minute pitch meetings, to be scheduled on first-come, first-served basis)

5:15-6:00pm – General registration

6:00-7:15pm – Panel: An Inside Look at Publishing

Including advice from an editor, agent, publisher, publicity/marketing director, and author

7:15-7:45pm – Booksigning

8:00-9:30pm – Cocktail party for premiere ticket holders


9:00-10:00am – registration

10:00 – 10:50am – Tama Kieves: Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Writing Career!

10:55-11:20am – Laurie Lamson: Top Tips from the Now Write! Experts

11:20-11:45 – Book signing, bathroom break

11:45-12:15pm – Keith Ogorek:  Four Key Words to Put Your Creativity to Work

12:30 – 2:00pm – LUNCH

2:00-3:00pm – Panel: Building Your Platform / The Path to Publishing

3:00-3:40pm – Barbara Diane Barry: Painting Your Way Out of a Corner

3:40-4:00pm – Book signing, bathroom break

4:00-5:00pm – Julia Cameron: Cultivating Your Creativity the Artist’s Way

5:00-5:30pm – Julia Cameron Booksigning

*Denotes activities available to those with Premier tickets



Julia Cameron has been an active artist for more than three decades. She is the author of more than thirty books, including The Artist’s Way (which has sold over 2 million copies and been translated into more than a dozen languages), Walking in This World, and Finding Water. Also a novelist, playwright, songwriter, and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film, and television.


Tama Kieves, Harvard-lawyer-turned-career-coach, has spent the last decade crossing the Tama KievesUnited States and Canada, speaking to tens of thousands of people and sharing her inspiring story of moving from a career that was killing her to a life that has uplifted her, chronicled in her first book, This Time I Dance!: Creating the Work You Love. She has mentored thousands of people who, with her help, have followed their passion, and now live their dream lives. Kieves recently published a new book with Tarcher/Penguin called Inspired & Unstoppable.


Mari Mancusi is a two-time Emmy award-winning television producer and award-winning author of eighteen novels for adults and teens, including Scorched, Blood Coven Vampires Gamer Girl. A graduate of Boston University’s College of Communication, she lives with her husband and daughter in Austin,


Barbara Diane Barry is an artist and art teacher in New York City. Under the educational outreach program at Symphony Space, she teaches in public schools throughout NYC’s five boroughs and gives tours in the city’s finest museums. In addition, she is on staff at the South Street Seaport Museum and the creator of “Art for Self-Discovery,” a studio art program for adults and children.


Laurie LamsonLaurie Lamson is a writer, editor and filmmaker who loves helping tell great stories. She is the editor of Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, co-editor (with her Aunt Sherry Ellis) of Now Write! Screenwriting and Now Write! Mysteries. In addition, Lamson has written feature screenplays for indie producers and short educational videos, such as a series of interactive projects for the National Museum of the U.S. Army, and the award-winning “Care for our Planet” for Levi Strauss & Co.


Joel Fotinos is vice-president and publisher at Tarcher/Penguin, and the co-author of The Think & Grow Rich Workbook and The Prayer Chest. A licensed minster with the Centers for Spiritual Living, Fotinos travels the country giving talks and workshops on spirituality and inspiration.


Currently SVP of Marketing at Author Solutions, Keith Ogorek has worked in product development, as an ad agency creative director, inventor of a successful game for adults and children, creator of an innovative product for parents of infants, and author of three inspirational books.