You gotta feel to heal

I once heard grief is like a thumbprint. That no two are alike.

Now, more than ever, I really get that. 

Grief is different for everyone.

Kerry Hanna Coaching grief is like a thumbprint After losing my mother a few months ago, I began my own roller coaster ride of grief.

Sometimes I felt terribly sad. That she, my one and only mother, had permanently left this world. 

I didn’t care that she was almost 92. And had lived a long life. She was still my mother. And she was gone. Forever.

How could that possibly be? It shocked me to my core. And hurt like hell.

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The truth will set you free

The other week I had an epiphany.

It was time for me to tell the truth. The real truth.

I’d been holding onto something that I needed to share. For the sake of my own sanity. And my health.

It’s ironic really.

As a Certified Life Coach it’s the last thing I’d recommend anyone do: hold onto a secret. Especially one that’s slowly eating away at you.

Like all secrets tend to do. Just as mine had been doing.

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The power of knowing your superpowers

Do you know what you superpowers are?

The gifts you were born with that make you uniquely you? The ones you were meant to share with the world?

Recently I was reminded of mine. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

I was in the middle of a challenging situation with a colleague. I was feeling criticized and dismissed. As though I was just a number. A cog in the wheel. Nothing special.

The exact opposite of how I believe we all deserve to feel.

As a result, my confidence was taking a hit. I began second-guessing myself . And everything I said or did. I felt like I was walking on eggshells (always a bad sign for a recovering people-pleaser like me). I knew I was not acting in alignment with my true self.

My intuition was on high alert. My brain began screaming “danger, danger, pay attention!”

So I decided to take a step back and analyze the situation a bit more carefully. To sit with my anxiety instead of run from it. To see what my body – always a barometer for my soul – had to say.

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Reclaiming my voice

Clarity comes in interesting ways.

The other day I was listening to one of my favorite Life Coaches, Nancy Levin, on Hay House Radio when one of her callers said something that triggered an ah-ha moment for me. And helped me uncover a life-long pattern.

The woman was describing an unkind comment made by a dance teacher she’d had when she was young. It was a thoughtless comment that caused the caller to have doubts about herself and her body image for many years to come.

As the woman told her story I suddenly remembered an incident from my own childhood.

It was a comment made by my grade 4 teacher that ended up having a profound effect on me as well.

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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.) 

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.)

Step into your "enough-ness"

Recently I heard a woman on the radio use the phrase: step into your enough-ness. It stopped me in my tracks. 

Wow.

Step into your enough-ness.

OK, I get it. What a great reminder for a woman like me, a recovering perfectionist.

And what a terrific book or workshop title. I wrote it down in my journal of great ideas, as I have done so many times before, and then promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to today. I was out walking on the seawall, all alone in the rain. It was just me and my thoughts. And my growing anxiety about writing my very first blog.

What should I write about? 

What speaks to me? Comes from my heart? What would resonate with other women?

As my anxiety grew, my thoughts suddenly turned to the word ‘perfectionism’ and how it keeps showing up in my life. 

How my desire to do things perfectly (or to not be seen as imperfect) holds me back.

And how I use my fear of imperfection as a way to procrastinate. To not do the very thing I wish I could do: find my voice. Imperfect though it may be.

How hard I’ve had to work at believing in my core that I am good enough. That I can step into my own enough-ness.

I could certainly write about that.

Truth be told, I have wanted to write a blog for years.

But every time I took a step towards it my inner critics would rise up. And they were very, very convincing.

They would say cruel things like: “You’re not a writer. You have nothing of value to say. Who the heck is going to listen to you?”

And the kicker: “Who do you think you are?”

Ouch.

I thought about all the ways I had blown my blog off.

All the excuses I’d made for not expressing my voice. For not shining my own unique light out into the world.

I thought about all the people I’d believed in, cheer-leaded and coached to follow their own dreams. To not give up. To speak their own truth.

But when push came to shove, I had not been able to do the same for me.

My inner critics had always won. So instead of expressing my voice, I would go underground again. I’d tell myself it was OK. It wasn’t my time yet. Maybe it never would be.

So here I was, back at the starting gate. Back to the blog.

My inner light was craving to be set free, and my inner voice unleashed.

A few weeks ago I had committed to writing this blog on a whim. I promised a dear friend (who’s also my coach) that I would post it by the end of this week. I was excited at the thought of it, and knew I could do it – would do it – this time.

There would be no more excuses.

But suddenly with my deadline looming, I was procrastinating all over again. Same old, same old. I was ready to shove my voice down once more.

I felt sick.

How could I let my coach down? How could I tell her I was throwing in the towel? But even worse, how could I let myself down? Again?!

Before my inner critics won their battle, something else happened. Out on that seawall, today in the rain. Something magical. Something that changed everything for me. And gave me the courage to write.

Up, out of the calm waters, popped a seal. My totem animal. Spirit guide. Inner coach.

I’ve had an affinity with seals my whole life. I see them all the time. And every time I do, I believe they have a message for me.

totem seal representing good enough

So today, in the soft rain, I closed my eyes and asked this seal, this spirit guide of mine, what message it had for me.

Within seconds my answer came: don’t give up.

Keep moving forward, one step at a time. 

My heart lifted. And I realized that I was not going to buy into my procrastination this time. I was not going to listen to my fear. Nor let my inner critics win.

I was going to write my first blog, once and for all, damn it.

So here I am. My first blog is almost done. And like the seal rising above the surface of the ocean, I’m ready to let my spirit free.

I’ve found my voice. And I won’t let it go underground again.

This is my first big step towards embracing all of me. With all my imperfections. I know I will make mistakes. I have before. And I will again. But as they say: go big or go home.

I’m not ready to go home. I just got here.

And after all these years of fear and procrastination, I have finally found the courage to step into my own enough-ness.

(Now it’s your turn. Can you think of an example from your own life where you’ve felt you were good enough? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.)