Identify a problem. Look for a book or an expert to help me. Research on the internet. Ask all of my friends. Observe what everyone else around me is doing. Sit and wonder about it. Make a plan. Get (more than) a little overwhelmed by my plan. Get scared. Get more stuck. Decide that my problem might need a little more research and begin the cycle again.
I was stuck in thinking about the multitude of ways that I wanted to living my life differently… but, in my overwhelm, I wasn’t doing anything differently. I was stuck in the intellectual stage of discovery and knowledge accumulation.
And really, I had no freaking clue where to actually begin.
Everything felt so big and I felt so small. Researching felt infinitely easier than the risk of trying something new and failing.
I also believed on some level that I was a problem that needed to be fixed. A problem so complex and special that it warranted all of that extra research. I wanted to be a problem, because problems have solutions. Problems lend themselves to a quick fix. To a solution handcrafted by someone smarter than myself.
But I wasn’t a problem. I’m not a problem.
What I was, was deeply deeply afraid. Afraid of shining. Afraid of not being enough. Afraid of being too much – of having too many emotions to navigate. Afraid of trusting my intuition. Afraid that this whole thing of “getting to live exactly how you want” was a lie and I would have to go back to my life as I knew it. Afraid that I was special. Afraid that I was not special enough.
Here’s the thing
You are special. Your problems are not. We all struggle with something – even the people who seem like they have it all together.
You are not a problem to be fixed.
You do not have to over complicate it. You can choose not to overwhelm yourself into a place of inaction. You get to determine the pace and the structure of what “living your life how you want to” looks. You get to experiment – and get it wrong. You get to recalibrate and end up with something a million times better than you ever could have imagined.
You get to choose.
But, you have to choose to put down the self-help book or pause before hiring the next coach or sit with yourself before you press BUY NOW on the next e-course.
You get to choose to remember that you are not a problem to be fixed and thus that book/person/program will not fix you. You get to choose that if it is action that you’re craving, it is your job to start doing something – anything. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Claim your desire to move forward and start anywhere.
Before clicking purchase on that next thing, do this
Ask yourself… What do I want? Where am I try to go? If I were really honest with myself, what is in my heart to create?
Then, ask yourself… What one small step that I can take in that direction right now?
You may still decide that you want the book or the coach or the program, but it is my hope that you make that decision out of a place of adoration and devotion to your own sweet spirit – and the knowing that getting support would feel deliciously good. Support gathered from that place has a delicious, celebratory feel to it. It is about plying yourself with resources to aid in your success, instead of that panic-induced search for something to save you from yourself.
You may decide not to. That’s ok too. I promise you there will be another thing to sign up for coming up soon.
You may decide to start with taking a little bit of action to see where it takes you.
You do not need to do everything today.
In fact – don’t even try to do most of the things today.
Start with one thing. One glass of water, one loving word mumbled to yourself, one act of self-kindness, one good choice.
Start with one thing and give yourself permission (as many times a day as you need it) to keep it simple. Don’t fall into the trap of judging the fact that “one thing is stupid and don’t you really want a sexier, BIGGER plan – you should hire someone to help you with that.”
Choose to hop off of the cycle. Choose to reclaim your life in small pieces and moments of clarity. They will add up, I promise.
Know this: each and every starting point is exactly the same. You do not have to wait for the right one. Pick any spot. Start there. Don’t be too precious about the process. The process of living intentionally is going to be a bit messy. You might have some feelings. And that is totally ok.
You might need help. That’s ok too. Ask for it. Seek out communities where you can be yourself and share vulnerably. Hire someone to hold space for you while you sort it out. Gather an entire team to support you in taking action if you’d like.
Allow these small acts to expand your capacity for living remarkably, vibrantly. Pour small choices into the cracks and crevices between responsibility and your to do list, feeling into the way that doing so subtly starts to reweave the fabric of how you’re living.
Give yourself permission to take imperfect action.
A note: For many years I made myself into a problem to be fixed to justify the fact that I really loved exploring myself – taking classes, reading books, working with people. I had to unbraid this for myself to teach myself that it is truly ok to love those things – and to take them merrily. I didn’t have to be a mess in order to deserve them. I was allowed to spend my money on them because they lit me up… and that’s the point. So, if that’s a piece of it for you, an extra dollop of permission: You can love it. You say yes to it. But, skip the part where you call yourself a mess in order to deserve it.
This week I’m seeking pleasure by… bringing this column to sweet, delicious closure. Over the last seven years, I have written a Sunday delicious link wrap up almost every single Sunday, and I have decided that I need a bit of a break. Starting next week, fresh content. My content. I absolutely adore every single post that I’ve shared with you guys over the last years, but it’s time for me to make a bit of a shift. If you’re curious what I’m reading, I recommend that you skedaddle over to follow me on Facebook, where I will share things from time to time. XO
Today, I am thrilled to share my answers to an interview with Dr. Danielle Dowling about how I live on purpose!
How do you identify your spark? Do you have any rituals that help you return to your truest, most centered self?
I define my spark as that quick, quiet moment of noticing that something has peeked my interest. For years this moment was so slight, I barely realized that it was happening. Now, I notice it in the intake of breath when something catches my eye. Or the feeling of recognition in my heart. Or the goosebumps that creep up my neck.
When that spark shows itself, I work to not second guess it. I don’t ask myself why I have a sudden desire to start painting or taking an African dance class. I don’t tell myself that I shouldn’t want to do that thing just because I have never done it before. I don’t have to make my yearning mean anything or to qualify it in anyway. I honor it because I want to live a sparkly life and that following it helps me get there.
However, I’ve noticed that it is incredibly difficult to notice my own spark if I am exhausted or overwhelmed. When I find myself feeling particularly dismal or less-than-sparkly, I find my center by taking a peek at my self-care. Do I need sleep? Am I dehydrated? Have I been eating too much sugar?
I return to my center by keeping it incredibly simple and examining my self-care on a granular level. I am kind to myself in this moment. I don’t try to do it all at once. First step, a sip of water or a nap or a delicious meal. Then, I look for the spark.
How do you not get caught up in “doing it all?”
Ha! This is so tricky! Over the last couple of years, I have cultivated a peaceful coexistence with my to do list. I have cultivated a bit of a ritual around it where I write down the things that I want to do for the week every Sunday evening on a beautiful piece of colored paper. Then, I look at the list and ask myself a few questions…
Could a human being reasonably accomplish the things on this list? (Because I’m not a magician.)
Can I do the things that I’ve written here while also taking really good care of myself? (Because I matter.)
Do I really WANT to do everything that I’ve written here? (Because, if the answer is no… I will drag my feet and hate it.)
By asking myself these questions I have been able to create more reasonable, good-feeling lists. Lists that are brimming with things that are inspiring and challenging, but things that I truly want to dedicate my time to.
Here’s the thing: We cannot do it all.
Something has got to give, always. And, I have made the decision for my life to prioritize the things that are really important to me – taking care of myself, showing up fully in my relationships, and bringing the brightest version of myself to my business. If I am unable to do those things, I have to find a couple of things on my list to remove or put off for another week.
What are some things you’ve said ‘no’ to so you can focus on what’s most important to you? What are you currently saying ‘no’ to?
For much of my life, I prided myself on being the kind of woman who almost never said no. I would suck up my resentment and frustration, and choose the needs of others over my own needs. I would make myself small in my desires, easily palatable, because I believed for many years that my worth was defined by how much I gave to others.
However, I hated feeling frustrated and resentful. Ultimately I needed to learn a new way of showing up in my life and in my relationships, so that I could feel free to give with an open heart and not out of that enmeshed place of constant obligation.
These days, I say no to a lot of things. I try to keep my calendar as streamlined and open as possible, so that I can say yes to the book that I am writing, to my clients, and to my partner. These days, I try to say no to the things that I feel like I should do or to the things I would only be saying yes to in order to make someone else happy.
I say no whenever I need to – whenever I’m not fully on board with something.
And, I absolutely say no whenever I feel like I want to say yes so that someone would like me, because I want to be liked for who I am and not what I can do for them.
What do you always say “yes” to?
I always say yes to myself.
I say yes to resting more, playing on the beach, and going out of my way to make the most delicious food that I can imagine for myself – even if it’s only me that I’m cooking for. I say yes to the perfect cup of coffee and showers that are longer than they need to be. I say yes to the tug of my creativity, working to ply her with the resources that spark her interest. I say yes as a practice, because I have noticed that in saying yes – and granting myself permission to want what I want – I become a little bit happier and more fulfilled, everyday.
And I almost always say yes to my sweetheart.
The Soul Sessions Blog Tour
Today I’m sharing how I live on purpose in support of my lovely friend Dr. Danielle Dowling and her new book The Soul Sessions, a 5-week guide to crafting greater joy and making big things happen. Skip on over here to check it out.
The gripping, churning feeling. The promise of repercussion. The flinch before the fallout.
The moment when my bright and shiny light sprung from my carefully folded hands, trespassing against my best attempts to keep it under wraps.
For many years I skirted the dance of my ambition and my fear of shining too brightly.
I stood back against the wall, awkwardly shifting from one foot to another, as I ached with the yearning for vibrancy. As I ached to be the one in the center of the circle.
Even now I feel the cool of the brick against my back as beads of sweat gather at the remembering.
You are going to be in trouble. You’ve been found out. You’ve been bad.
But I haven’t been bad. I’ve just been myself.
And, the thing is, I don’t remember ever being told that I was bad.
I don’t remember ever being told that there was a right way or a wrong way to do things.
It’s as if these beliefs seeped through my permeable skin, prancing through my open gates and taking up residence in my heart.
And I was wide open for the taking.
I wanted desperately to be good. I wanted to do all of the right things. I wanted to be pleasant and lovable. I wanted to have a nice life.
I wanted to shave off my sharp edges and mold myself into something relatively inoffensive.
But, inside, I am sharp and brazen. Inside, I am chandeliers of mega watt bulbs and sparkling golden intention. Inside, I am unapologetically self-assured.
Bide your time. Do it the right way. Channel your brightness into safe channels and projects that don’t call attention.
The thing is, I am breaking free despite myself. A little bit more each day.
I find myself spilling over my carefully defined edges and showing up in spite of my most carefully laid plans.
I used to believe that if I showed the world who I really was, I would be alone forever. But, now I know that if I don’t allow myself to be who I really am, I will belong to no one – not even myself. Now I know that there is no greater loneliness than not belonging to yourself.
Our spirits will not be denied.
I laid the bricks myself. I am the imprisoned and the guard. I mitigated my own shine.
My spirit will not be denied.
She breaks through in crashing waves and fits and starts. She is my oxygen tank when I am pressed with my face against the glass ceiling of my upper limit. She is a living, wild thing vibrating in my limbs, and no amount of distraction with dissuade her.
I am allowed to have my own life. I am allowed to create it in whatever way I see fit. I am allowed to nurture and nourish this life as it if were my sacred responsibility – because it is. I am allowed to do things that are threatening or make other people uncomfortable. I am allowed to make choices that don’t make sense to anyone but me. I am allowed to curate my own happy ending.
She will not be denied.
And I am left with the shell of that former good girl, that piece of myself that wishes she would just be quiet already and stop causing so much trouble. She was so sweet. She took such good care of me.
And I mourn her, because when she was me safety was clearly outlined in the dos and don’ts of Miss Manners. When she was me, she was easily satiated by the piecemeal life that I had handed her. When she was me, I knew the rules of the game.
But there is healing in the union of these two parts.
The healing is in knowing that there is room here for the two of us.
The healing is in knowing, in truth… I am an adult and there is no one left to get in trouble with.
The healing is in the balancing of becoming who I really am.
The healing is in knowing that I have a responsibility to tend to this life as if it were my best thing, because it is.
The healing is common ground between in the chandelier and the sweaty, feverish fear of being too much.
The healing is in carving out space like a snow angel, expanding my edges and allowing true self to shine through.
The healing is in speaking to the good girl in the sweet tones that we use with someone that we love. Thank you. Thank you for keeping me safe. You did not disappoint me. I do not need to rebel against you. Can we coexist here, peacefully?
The healing is in knowing that I have permission to be who I am in this moment. Permission to change my mind. Permission to change the rules. Permission to rewrite the ending of my story.