Meaningful Work, Self Empowerment

Stepping into my power and releasing the old

Why I'm changing my approach to my creative business.

I’d rather be honest and authentic and disappoint some people, than to exhaust myself trying to keep up the facade of perfection
– Crystal Paine

I haven’t written anything for a long time.

You see, I’m feeling restless. I’m feeling a bit lost, while paradoxically feeling clearer than I have in a long time.

I can sense a change in the air. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m giving birth in about ten weeks – eek! – or maybe it’s a greater change coming about in general. In thinking about my business, I know I want to make some changes moving forward – but then, I also know that changes are coming in my life as a whole, in who I am and how I live.

Whatever it is, I know that things are shifting for me in big and little ways.

I can feel the old falling away and the new beckoning me to move forward. For me, the old looks like:

  • Worrying about what others think
  • Trying to please everyone
  • Hiding parts of myself and my life
  • Trying to portray a certain image or brand
  • Overwhelm, confusion, being stretched too thin
  • Trying to fit myself within a specific box (or in business terms, niche)
  • Competing and feeling not enough
  • Fear that others will not like who I really am
  • Trying to do things perfectly, correctly, by the book

These are not things I’ve consciously chosen to do in the past – in fact, I’ve actively tried to avoid most of them. But now that I stop to think about it, on some level, these things have still been present in my life. They show up in the way I censor myself on social media, in the way I’m afraid to step in front of the camera to make videos, in the feelings of stress and the procrastination that follows, in the loss of interest in my work, in the deep sense that I don’t have what it takes to write a book, in feeling stifled when I think about my business.

But when I think about the new, the ways I’m being pulled to move forward, I feel such a deep sense of lightness, ease, relief and excitement.

The new looks like:

  • Sharing more of my life in my work – that means writing about things beyond journaling and creativity (such as motherhood, simplicity, tiny living, self care, introversion, sensitivity etc)
  • Letting myself be more vulnerable, more easily seen – sharing more of my fears, my imperfections, my mistakes – and my face!
  • No longer listening to the business ‘experts’ but rather allowing my own inner compass to guide my business
  • Simplifying, getting rid of things that don’t bring me joy – including possessions, beliefs, digital clutter (unfollowing, unfriending, releasing)
  • Trusting that I still have a lot to offer people even if it doesn’t clearly fit within an obvious brand or niche
  • A deep sense that my soul is guiding me forward in just the right way
  • A knowing that in sharing who I am, vulnerably and authentically, I can help others to heal parts of themselves and shine brighter in their own lives
  • An acceptance that I can’t please everyone – that people will unfollow me, unsubscribe from me, maybe even lash out at me – but that as long as I’m listening to my own inner guidance I’m on the right path
  • An excitement that as I am more myself and more openly authentic, I’m going to connect with the right people in the right way at the right time

Maybe that sounds a bit vague. It sort of does to me when I read it over, but at the same time it makes me feel like I know what I want going forward, like I know how I want to feel.

Listen to the voice inside.

My business will be changing. Sure, there will still be the same journaling goodness (journaling will always be my number one tool for personal growth and soul connection) but there will be other things mixed in there too – things I feel called to share, for whatever reason. In building this little online business, I’ve struggled with the boundaries around being authentic and also being professional – with staying ‘on brand’ but also infusing myself into my work. It’s quite exhausting and limiting. I don’t want to present a certain image – I want to share me.

My deep belief is that all women, regardless of race, religion, size, social standing or anything else, have within them something valuable to share with the world.

But so many of us need to be reminded that we are enough, that who we are, as we are right now, is enough. That we have gifts to share and offer the world, that the world needs each and every one of us to share our voices, our experiences, our truths – no matter how insignificant they may seem to us. That we need to find the power within and the courage to be ourselves without apology, if we are to live a life that light us up and makes the world a better place.

I believe the best way to help women do this – to remember the great power and courage they hold within themselves – is to step into my own power, recognise my own enoughness, live my own life boldly, without apology and be an example for others.

And currently, I’m feeling stifled – by my online ‘brand’, by my work (my blogging, writing, social media etc), by the old ways of doing things. I’m sensing parts of myself just dying to be heard, expressed and shared, but instead being pushed down as I fear they aren’t ‘on brand’, or might offend someone, or just plain aren’t enough.

No more.

No more apologies, disclaimers, worrying about what someone might think. No more holding back, hiding parts of myself, trying to fit within a certain box or image to appeal to some ‘target audience’ out there. No more worrying about what label best fits me – artist, coach, writer, teacher… who cares? No more trying to have it all figured out.

It’s time for rawness, authenticity, vulnerability and courage. It’s time for mistakes, mess and imperfection.

Watch this space!

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Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: Authenticity and awareness

We hear the word ‘authentic’ bandied about a lot. It seems to be in the title of every new self-help book that’s released.

But I think it’s gotten a bit of a bad rap.

I actually think that striving to live an authentic life is a very worthwhile goal.

So, to that end, I say we make the word ‘authentic’ a little less self-helpy and a little more, well, authentic.

I think to truly live an authentic life means to know your values and live a life that reflects these. It’s about really knowing who you are and being aware of what matters to you, maintaining that awareness, and acting so that your life is in alignment with that. This means that what is an authentic life for me, will not necessarily be an authentic life for you.

You need to know yourself: I don’t authentic lifethink it’s possible to live an authentic life if you don’t really know what makes you tick.

I also don’t think it’s possible to live an authentic life without some level of self awareness. You can’t possibly live a life in alignment with your values if you aren’t aware of what they are.

And it’s not a one-off thing, either. You need to maintain the awareness to make sure your life continues to be in alignment with your values.

In other words, to truly live an authentic life, you have to cultivate awareness through a regular check-in with yourself.

You can probably guess what I recommend for this. Yes, it’s journaling. And not just any journaling, but a regular practice of tuning into that voice inside, that inner wisdom, to make sure you’re living a life that is authentic for you.

>>> Prompts:

What does the word ‘authentic’ mean to you?

To what extent do you think you live an authentic life? What changes would you like to make so that your life reflects your true self?

How can you cultivate more awareness?

Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.

Creativity, Self Empowerment

Journal prompts: Know yourself

The practice of journaling regularly has allowed me to get to know myself in ways unimaginable.

There’s something about the process of writing our thoughts, dreams and fears out onto the page, getting them outside of ourselves and having them there for us to look at, that enables us to better connect with and understand ourselves.

My journal is a mirror I hold up to myself, reflecting back my deepest values, highlighting my darkest fears and loftiest dreams, showing me who I am.

Through this process I have gained greater clarity about myself, about things I never knew before; I’m a highly sensitive person, an introvert, I often let resistance and fear stop me from doing things but paradoxically I also believe that anything is possible.

lesson 7When I began my journaling journey, I didn’t set out to ‘get to know myself better’, it just sort of happened along the way. And while I’m sure there are other ways of getting to know yourself and how you tick, I have found journaling to be the most invaluable tool to do so.

It’s like an ongoing therapy session with myself that I always have a record of to reread. Patterns and cycles become clear, images, symbols and words are repeated, certain themes emerge.

And by seeing myself on the page, I start to become a character in a bigger story, distinct from myself. I find this allows me to learn about ‘this person’ with compassion and acceptance, without judgement.

In short, journaling has deepened my relationship with myself. I can now listen to that small, quiet voice inside – the one that accepts me as I am and comforts me when the world is too harsh, that tells me when something feels off, when I need to rest more, when I need more self-love.

In fact, the small voice inside has gotten louder and louder. I now no longer look at my life and wonder why things are happening the way they are happening. Because I have a deeper sense of who I am, because I know myself and why I think and behave the way I do, I have a greater sense of purpose and control over my life. I find myself reacting less and acting more purposefully.

This post is a lot more rambly than I intended, so I apologise if you’ve struggled to follow my train of thought!

>>> Prompts:

How well do you think you know yourself?

What practices do you engage in regularly to maintain a good relationship with yourself? It doesn’t have to just be journaling, it might be painting, meditating, exercise such as yoga or running, seeing a therapist, etc.

What practices would you like to try to create a deeper sense of connection with yourself?

Note: this post was originally part of a series of 30 life lessons and journal prompts for my 30th birthday. You can access the rest of the lessons and prompts here.

Self Empowerment

On sickness and blogging

I am sick at the moment. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. Just general crapness.

I have attempted to write an amazing blog post three times now. It’s not happening. Time to face the fact: today’s post is going to be pretty average.

But I guess by honouring where I am right now and being authentic, there may be something worth saying.

That’s one of the really hard things about doing this every day. And I guess this would apply to doing anything every day. Some days it just won’t work, for whatever reason. Maybe you run out of time. Maybe you have to take care of your kids or your partner or someone else, and there’s no room left for you at the end of it. Maybe you’re unwell *cough*.

I think it’s good to commit to doing something regularly.

I’ve seen dramatic changes in my life from journaling and blogging regularly. And it’s been really good to be pushed to do it every day. Mostly. Most of the time, I just need a wee nudge to get on with it and then I’m glad I did. Having the commitment encourages me to challenge myself.

And, occasionally, I don’t want to do it. And that’s also ok. Taking a break from doing something can also be rewarding and can help you to move towards your goal faster, without burning out.

So while I am still posting today because that’s the commitment I’ve made and I want to show up, I’m also going easy on myself. This isn’t brilliant writing. But I think it’s good to show that.

It’s good to let the world see me on my crap days too.

To see that I’m trying, that I’m willing to push forward – to see me as I am, now.

Because otherwise, how can we truly be vulnerable? How can we truly progress, if we can’t admit when we aren’t feeling good, when we need a little help, when things aren’t going to plan? How can we grow without accepting where we are?

Creativity, Self Empowerment

On authenticity, vulnerability and courage

These words are thrown around a lot. Especially the word ‘authentic’. It’s become a self-help buzzword, of sorts. What does authenticity really mean? I believe it is closely tied with vulnerability and courage.

Why? Because in order to be truly authentic – that is, to be truly yourself – you need to have the courage to be vulnerable, exposed. Being who you really are in a world that constantly tells you to be someone else requires courage. Especially if who you are is a little different.

The word vulnerability is a little scary, isn’t it? Sounds a bit dangerous, a bit risky. But really, there is a paradoxical truth here.

Vulnerability actually empowers us.

The more that we can truly own who we are, claim our identity and just be us – the less that others can influence us or hurt us. No one can take away who you really are. And if you know and love your true self, it really doesn’t matter what others think or say about you.

I’ve been finding that the more I come to accept and embrace – even celebrate – the quirks that make up who I am, the more I am forced to be vulnerable. I have to share myself, my true self, with others. It’s very difficult to tell ourselves that we are good enough while actively hiding parts of ourselves from others.

But a strange thing is happening: The more I share who I really am with the world, the more I am developing courage.

Brene Brown likens courage to swimming – you get good at swimming by practicing swimming. Similarly, you get good at courage by practicing courage. This makes sense.

So often we don’t share our true selves (our feelings, opinions, dreams, hopes, disappointments, fears) with others, because we don’t feel brave enough. We hide who we are; we are afraid to be vulnerable. We lack courage. It is only through the practice of being vulnerable that we can develop courage.

This can all seem a bit abstract. Let me put it in concrete terms. For me, vulnerability and courage look a bit like this:

  • Making peace with the way I look, including being overweight, and accepting that some people will have a problem with that (but that’s not my problem)
  • Accepting that others may judge me for some of my unconventional beliefs/choices (such as wanting to live in a tiny house, refusing to watch the news because it makes me very sad, not caring about things like fancy weddings or expensive clothes/makeup, choosing to be at home alone rather than out partying, refusing to eat low-fat dairy – because really, what is that?)
  • Being open about how I feel if I’m having a bad day
  • Asking questions when I am unsure, even if I think I’ll look stupid
  • Not caring what others think of me (still working on this one!)
  • Sharing personal things about myself on a blog!

But I’ve come to realise that in order for me to be authentic – to feel like I am accepting and loving who I am and just ‘being myself’ – I need to be willing to be vulnerable. I must have the courage to share who I am with others, regardless of what they will think of me.

Journaling has helped me immensely with learning to love myself and developing courage. The more often I engage in a journaling dialogue with myself, with my dreams and desires, my fears and opinions, the more I come to accept and even celebrate who I am.

Some questions to ponder in your journal:

  • What does authenticity mean to you? And courage? Vulnerability?
  • How authentic do you feel you are? Would you say that most people know the ‘real you’?
  • Are there parts of yourself that you deliberately keep hidden from others? What are they? Why do you hide them?
  • Are there parts of yourself you would like to share with others more readily?
  • How could you be more authentic? What parts of yourself could you start to share?