Why blog, you ask?

Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am by the joy I’ve gotten from blogging.

I started not long ago in response to a challenge from a coaching friend of mine. I happened to mention to her in passing that I’d been playing with the idea of blogging for years. The next thing I knew, in classic coaching style, she was holding me accountable for posting my very first blog that same week.

I was terrified at first. But up for the challenge. Because let’s get real, I knew deep down inside of me there was a writer dying to get out.

I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I clicked “publish” that very first time. It was a mixture of pure delight. And absolute fear.

I hardly slept that night.

Looking back I don’t think anyone even read my first blog. Except for the friends I sent it to the next day. 

It was still thrilling nonetheless! Hearing my friends’ words of encouragement gave me the extra nudge I needed to continue down the terrifying path of blogging.

So if I was so terrified, then why blog, you ask?

Why not just continue along the safer path? The one where I write in a private journal like I’ve done for so many years?

Good question. Here’s why.

Blogging lets me speak my truth out loud.

Something I’ve been wanting – no, aching – to do my whole life.

It remindblogging pens me of my younger, carefree days. When I traveled abroad and wrote long heartfelt letters to my friends back home.

I didn’t critique or over-analyze my words, I just lived in the moment and spoke my truth on paper.

At the time it felt wonderfully freeing to express my emotions so openly. So honestly.

Later many of my friends would tell me how much those letters had meant to them. That they’d cherished them like gifts.

Blogging feels like I’m still writing those letters. Still speaking from my heart. Connecting soul to soul with my friends. Still sharing my sacred gifts.

Blogging has given me an outlet for authentic self-expression.

Something I’ve been craving for years.

It’s a way for me to share ALL of me. The parts I often keep protected and hidden from the world.

My superpowers.

The qualities that ultimately make me the best version of myself. My empathy and compassion. Rawness and vulnerability. My humour and my heart.

Blogging lets me connect to all of those. And to share them with others.

And surprise, surprise! That feels pretty darn good. 

(Now it’s your turn. Can you think of an example from your own life of something you really love to do…that expresses who you are? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.) 

Just be yourself

When I was growing up my mother often said to me: just be yourself.

But did she really mean it? And why, after so many years, is it still so damn hard to do?

be yourself rocks in the sand

I have zero doubts my parents loved me. Yet sometimes their love felt conditional.

Just be yourself (as long as it’s the version we like).

In other words not the self that’s too whiny, too sensitive or too needy. And definitely not the one that gets angry. Good girls – nice girls – don’t get angry.

WE can be angry (and trust me they often were, at least with each other). But YOU certainly can’t be. That was the unspoken rule in our house. Because as soon as I showed up as my real, less-than-perfect self, with any sort of emotional need they couldn’t meet – I was criticized, teased or punished.

Please know that I’m not blaming my parents in any way. It was all they knew how to do. They grew up in the “children should be seen and not heard” eraIn my heart of hearts I know they did their very best with the tools they’d been given.

However it’s no big surprise I turned out to be a people-pleaser.

Especially as the youngest child of four. I was, after all, a very quick study. I watched my three older siblings closely. Whenever they got into trouble for something, I would tell myself: I’ll never do that. And so I didn’t.

Instead I chose the straight and narrow path. The very straight and narrow path. And became somewhat of a golden child.

In high school I was well-liked by other students and my teachers. I made the honour roll. Joined teams and committees. And never skipped a class. I didn’t dare step outside of the box.

No smoking, no drinking, no drugs. And certainly no boys. I had a standard to uphold after all. I was the good girl.

I aimed to please.

After entering University on a scholarship, I took a break to become a fashion model. And (gulp) beauty queen. I walked runways, posed for magazine and newspaper ads, and did TV commercials. I won three titles in one year: Miss North Shore, Miss Congeniality, and Miss Fresh Face. As well as a trip to New York City to meet the iconic Eileen Ford, owner of the Ford Modeling Agency.

It was exciting and utterly terrifying all at once. Inside I wondered: am I special enough? Am I worthy? Am I lovable?

Lord knows I strived to be all of those.

Eventually I finished school. Got a real job. Got married and had a child. I spent years trying to prove I was good enough. Responsible enough. To be what I thought others wanted me to be.

It was exhausting.

Somewhere in there was the real me.

But where was she? Who was she? And what did she really want?

It took a divorce and single parenthood at the age of 41 to fully wake me out of my people-pleasing stupor. I had focused so much on everyone else’s needs (including my ex’s) that I’d lost touch with my own.

I felt broken.

Over the next several years I gradually put my life and myself back together. And tried to figure out who I really was.

I found a great therapist who helped me start to peel off my people-pleasing mask.

And encouraged me to go back to school to become a Certified Life Coach. It was there that I finally found my “tribe” – a group of like-minded individuals who made me feel safe. Like I’d finally come home.

While training to become a Life Coach I was challenged over and over again to peel off even more layers of my false self. To finally get in touch with my true essence. The me I’d always been. But had just forgotten. 

It was incredibly freeing. The real me stepped up and out.

And for the first time I felt truly alive.

I learned to set boundaries. And say no without guilt.

I learned to check in with my heart. To trust my intuition. Trust myself. To be myself.

be yourself sign of authenticityBut even after all I’ve learned, I still struggle at times.

And I still get lost.

I can feel the pull to the dark side. The one where I try to please others instead of myself. Where I try to be the person I think others want me to be.

If I sense someone dislikes or disapproves of me, or an opinion I hold, I suddenly find myself shrinking back. Not wanting to show my true, authentic self. For fear of being judged or ridiculed.

Or worse. Of not being liked.

And it royally pisses me off.

My inner critic yells: haven’t you learned anything yet? Why can’t you stand up? Be seen and heard for who you really are?

Why can’t you just be yourself? Like your mother always suggested?

And then I take a deep breath (or two) and tell my inner critics to go take a hike.

Because sure, sometimes I still struggle to be myself. I probably always will a little bit. And that’s OK. That’s part of me. Part of my uber-sensitive, vulnerable, imperfect self.

And I’m learning to like that part. To actually embrace that part. It makes me human.

It makes me…ME.

(Now it’s your turn. Can you think of an example from your own life when you were able to just be yourself? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.) 

A new year, a new me

I’ve never been one for making New Year’s resolutions. Somehow they’ve always felt forced and hollow. With no real joy attached.

So last week, when a friend sent me a New Year’s Eve meditation I was momentarily skeptical. This better not be about resolutions, I grumbled to myself.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

The goal of the meditation was to come up with a word that would guide me through 2017.

Yes! A word. I loved this idea.new year leap of freedom 

In the past I have done a similar thing – intuitively feeling my way into a word I believed would represent my coming year. A word that would help me move towards a more fulfilling life. And it had definitely worked.

At the end of one particularly challenging year, after losing my Dad, my beloved dog, and a close friendship all within two months, I was guided to choose two words for the upcoming year: openness and joy.

That year I focused on remaining open to possibilities and only moving towards people, ideas and experiences that brought me joy.

It turned out to be a very good year.

I shifted out of grief into some new and exciting areas. Took courses, met new people, and really put myself out there.

I became a Discover Your Sacred Gifts Certified Guide, landed a full-time job in a beautiful location with people I loved, and got back on my feet financially. Keeping the words openness and joy as my focus had moved me from a place of deep sadness into a brand new life.

At the end of that year I intuitively chose two more words (one of which I’ve already forgotten) to guide me through the next year. The word I didn’t forget – humbleness – ended up being far more powerful. And far more in my face.

After being a divorced, single parent for over a decade I was blessed to meet and fall in love with a wonderful man that year. However I had many, many humbling moments in our first few months together. As I learned to navigate our relationship.

I learned a lot about myself that year. And boy was some of that growth ever painful.

The Universe has a funny sense of humour. Humbleness is not a word I would choose again.

Last year I completely forgot about choosing a word and started the year off like any other. In hindsight I’d probably drifted away from the idea because I’d been so wrapped up in my relationship.

Like numerous times before, I had gotten distracted by we and lost touch with me.

So this year, I knew the guided word meditation was something that I wanted, or rather needed, to do.

My romantic relationship had become increasingly rocky over the past few months. And I was feeling confused about my future. I had been asking the Universe repeatedly for some guidance and clarity.

I knew instinctively that I needed to find a way to get centered before any decisions could be made. To go within to find myself again. Reconnect with my dreams and goals for the new year.

Meditating on a theme word for 2017 seemed like the perfect way to do it.

So one sunny afternoon last week I sat down on a bench above the sea. Plugged my earbuds in. Closed my eyes. And let the guided meditation take me on a journey.

Before I knew it, up from the very depths of my soul popped my new word for the year: freedom.

Yes I thought….freeeeedom!

It felt so good to say it! My spirit lifted instantly. My energy soared.

That was definitely my word. FREEDOM.

woman on the beach feeling freedom

Freedom to express myself fully. To feel ALL of my feelings without apology.

Freedom to follow my dreams and to choose my own path.

Freedom from guilt and shame. From feeling bad about myself for not being good enough. Happy enough. Calm enough. Kind enough. Fill in the blank enough.

And most importantly: freedom to be me. ALL of me.

Sensitive, emotional, loving.

And yes, sometimes overwhelmed, cranky and hot-headed, too.

As I sat there in the sun and contemplated the word freedom, a funny thing happened. The word gave me hope. It helped to guide me back to myself. To my inner guidance system. My intuition.

Back to my inner power. To knowing that no one needs to have my back. Because I have my back.

Back to knowing that I am worthy and lovable just as I am.

Over the next few days as I continued to hold the word freedom in my head and heart, I deliberated whether to stay in my relationship or not. The more I imagined the freedom that lay ahead of me by daring to let go of a relationship that was no longer serving me, the more hopeful I felt.

My answer was clear. There was no reason to hold on anymore to something and someone that was not feeding my soul. I was free to choose. And I was choosing to let go.

I now have a whole new year in front of me.

A year to rediscover myself. What I want. What makes me happy.

My slate is clean. 2017 looks clear and bright and shiny. And for the first time in a long time, I feel excited and free.

Very, very free.

(Now it’s your turn. What’s your special word for the year? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.)