Posts tagged courage
The Courage Within
many faces.jpg

I had a really good week.

I made it through a full schedule of classes without my body falling apart, I am getting into a GROOVE with my students at GVSU and I launched my new website. All three are reasons to celebrate, yet the thing I am most proud of is that I am doing them all MY WAY.

As part of the clearing out process that comes with a website/blog switch, some old posts left in my drafts are popping up. I know my last post was also about staying in the wrong place too long and what it does to a person, and normally I would not share two of the same in a row, but I feel compelled to share the message that making change is up to you.

NOTHING, no job, no person, no life situation should ever be allowed to make you feel less than. To make you feel like you constantly have to prove yourself, to make you question your worth, to suck the joy out of you. Life is not meant to be so hard.

Over 5 years ago I found the courage to let go of what was no longer serving me as I set off to follow my heart. It was a scary fantastic thing to do. The result is I now end my days with a smile, a sense of worth/belonging, and knowledge that I make a difference. The dirty feet, messy hair and sweaty clothes I come home with are an in-the-present daily reminder of this. What a difference operating from your sweet spot makes in a person's level of joy. Below is the post from my drafts, I hope my words resonate with the right person today and encourage change.

You are enough. You are worthy and deserving of joy. You have a place in this world that is meant just for you. Find it.

Courage does not mean that you possess the strength to carry on. Courage means that you will carry on when you feel that you no longer have the strength.

This is one of the first statuses I saw when I opened up Facebook this morning. Maybe it was an answer to last night's prayers asking for the strength to get through the funk I am in. Maybe it was just what I needed to realize that I need to find the courage to plow through my current problems and face my fears. After struggling through another sleepless night, and waking up to the same sad, scared, tears-really-close-to-the-surface-feeling I have experienced for the last couple of weeks, I am ready for a change. I do not want to feel like this anymore. It sucks.

I believe in being honest. So I will tell you that my blog has been quiet because I haven't been myself. I don't know what people who suffer from depression feel like, so I won't say that is how I have been feeling, but I think it might be appropriate. I will say I am stressed, beyond stress I have ever felt before. Emotional is maybe not a strong enough word.

It stems from me feeling like a failure. At work. I was hoping by now that I would have achieved a different result, I've certainly tried hard enough. But a year after I began my quest to find my place within a changing industry and a stagnant company, nothing has changed. Honestly it has gotten even worse, for me. Because now that I have tried so hard, and beat myself up every step of the way trying to make sure I was doing the right things, and they haven't worked, I now I feel that I have indeed failed. Not a feeling I am used to.
Lately this feeling of failure is the last thing I think about before I go to sleep, what I think about during the night when I cannot sleep, and what awaits me when I wake up in the morning. It permeates everything I do. It is wrecking one of my favorite times of year. It is wrecking the joy I feel being around my own family.
I hate feeling uncertain, unappreciated, unsure, heck, unwanted. I hate that there is a now a knot in my gut all day long. I was foolish enough to think that people at work would see how hard I was trying. That by me finding the courage to take some chances and think outside the box, it would count for something. That someone in management would appreciate and recognize the lengths I was willing to go to find a solution.
Instead my value to the company is even more in question. So much so, I felt like I was summoned to a meeting to get my walking papers last week. I didn't, at least not yet. That is never a nice feeling to experience, but it is especially hard for me because our family size has recently increased by two. At this moment in my life, my contribution to the family income, is crucial.
Why is it that after doing a job for almost 24 years, my opinion does not matter? Why is it that after continually attempting to share ideas, and implement them, I am questioned about what I really do, what my role is? Whose fault is it that I am in a "grey area"? Why am I, after 12 years with this company, asked to write my own job description to clear up the confusion about what I do?
How can I not be offended by this? And not then take everything said as a criticism? My new boss (who has been at our company for a year) told me he has no idea what I really do. How is that even possible? If someone told you that you needed to start submitting a report every Friday about what you were going to do the next week, how would you take that? I cannot "not be so sensitive". I must be wired differently.
I take it like this, I am a failure. If no one can see any value to what I bring to the table, somewhere I have made a crucial error. Did I fail to advocate for myself? To make sure I achieved recognition? I am not motivated by my personal gain (at least not monetarily). Job satisfaction, passion for what I do, and joy come from feeling that I make a difference. Clearly I have failed to make that difference in my workplace, I have failed to matter. And that is my worst fear realized.
So, I am facing it. I am now going to find the courage to carry on. This blog will no longer remain quiet. I will once again achieve success. My promise to my family is this: I will not be sad anymore. I will fix this.

When one door closes, another opens.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, maybe these quotes will help.
He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses his courage loses all. - Miguel de Cervantes

Have the courage to face a difficulty lest it kick you harder than you bargain for. - Stanislaus

Taking It All In

I'm not writing much at all lately.

In my dreams I am busy, a prolific writer, yet by the light of day I lose the words. In the safety of sleep, I always have ideas, good ones if my sub-conscious is any judge, and then they poof when I wake up and start my day. Oh, I could blog about my random thoughts all the time, but that "big" book idea, the story I am feeling called to tell always seems elusive during the daylight hours.

Isn't it weird how I can sit down with nearly anyone else and suddenly "know" what they should write about? I get their story. Most aren't even interested in writing their story, and yet I can see it so clearly. The story that others would benefit from hearing; whether it be the struggles they overcame, their major win against giant odds, their strength and perseverance when others would have quit, etc. It doesn't have to be a big a huge crazy life experience or trauma to be a story worth telling. Stories come from ordinary people who are living life to the fullest as their truest self. The lesson(s) they have learned are what inspire others, and gently bring others the strength to make changes in their own lives.

If I apply this thought to my book question, I come up with one major theme that encompasses all I have learned so far. Each of us has the power within us to change our life.  I think we are our own roadblock to whatever it is we desire. Sometimes we get stuck simply because we hold ourselves back from all we can be.

My message isn't a new message by any stretch of the imagination. It is, in fact, the underlying message of all of the great spiritual teachers of our generation, or at least what I hear their works saying to me. But the road I took to learn this great lesson, is my own.

I've been on a journey and I don't intend to stop learning, growing, changing, evolving, expanding, understanding, appreciating. As long as I do it in ways that feel right to me, ways that allow me to be myself without compromise, I will succeed.

I had help from great mentors along my journey and from great friends who allowed me to change and grow into me, while still loving me. Change is scary hard. Letting of your old story leaves you feeling vulnerable, naked and afloat. But in my opinion it is also the most freeing you will ever feel. And it sets the stage for you to begin growing into the authentic you.

Getting started is hard. There is no one first step that works for everyone, in fact each person's path to growth is different. But surrounding yourself with open minded, like-hearted people who are serious about their own journeys, helps.

I might be stalled right now, but I am not stuck. Far from it. I am taking it all in, observing, enjoying, being present to as much of my life as I can. To quote a song, I don't want to miss a thing, I did that once upon a time and I am not doing it again. I eventually want to write something that helps move people forward toward their best life and whatever it is they secretly yearn for: to find love, to be happier, to find purpose, to simplify their life, to create a legacy, to live without stress or whatever it is. I believe each of us has our own unique hidden desire(s), things we really wish for but think we are unable to attain because we aren't talented enough, or we don't have the means, or the time, or worse yet because we think we are not worthy of receiving it.

I know in my own life I have created roadblocks for myself. I have stopped my own forward progress. We create a lot of excuses for why we don't move in the direction of our dreams, and that has to stop.

You are so worthy my friend. No matter what your belief, or religion, or your feelings about God, you are worthy of whatever you desire. Whatever higher power you believe in wants you to succeed, wants you to shine, wants you to be your truest most beautiful, uniquest self. And finding that power within is what brings you all that you wish for.

Garnering Her Courage

And when she could no longer hold all the pieces of her life together, she summoned the courage to fall apart.

Once she hit rock bottom, with no where lower to go, she came undone and broke into a million tiny pieces. The relief she felt was unexpected. With nowhere to go but up, she felt the lightness of hope instead of the weight of crushing despair. Her greatest fear had always been that if she gave in to the darkness, she would not be able to recover from the fall.

How had she not realized that the hanging on had been like a cement block around her neck?

So she began the process of letting go.  She gave up the constant struggling against the current of her heart, and began to float back to herself. 

Some changes were immediate, others took longer for the world to see. They said she was reinventing herself, but she knew it was more about coming home to herself after years of trying to be someone/something she was not.

She worked hard to unlearn the strategies she had created hoping to stay safe, appear good and be beyond reproach. Some days it was more of a battle than a release.

She stopped

playing it so safe she kept herself in a fake bubble of safety so she wouldn't fail

staying productive so she was never called lazy

perfecting her outward appearance so the world would like her

trying to right all the wrongs that were not hers to fix

Years of control and constant striving forward to achieve began to melt away. It left her feeling lighter and freer, but also a bit unsteady. She struggled to find her balance even though the ground beneath her was in a constant state of change. Some of it she liked, some challenged her to her very core.

During the years of growing up it hadn't occurred to her that she was a person in need of time to just be. Always thinking she was too old, too busy, too necessary to just sit among the trees, or to play with rocks, she had always kept up her forward trek. Sadly, her progress had become the measurement of her own worth.

And that led to utter exhaustion, and her ensuing fall.

Rock bottom has an interesting way of giving you a new perspective and she came up fighting with fresh new eyes. Hope filled, happier eyes who now saw the necessity of spontaneity, of living a more unplanned life, and who craved freedom, peace, and joy. Comfort zones were meant to contain, and she was clearly ready to fly again.

She let her life get messy. She watched for signs from the universe meant to direct her onto her true path, occasionally impatiently jumping at opportunities that were not meant for her. She let herself fail. She let herself experience new things. She began to grow wiser.

And gone was the feeling that she would not be able to handle anything that happened to her. She knew she was growing stronger. She filled her mind with beautiful things, gone was worrying away the moments of her life in preparation for the what if's that might never actually happen. She traded them in for living in the moment, experiencing the beauty of life right in front of her.

As a result her cupboards grew unorganized, cobwebs formed in the corners of her rooms, and dust settled on everything. She didn't care. She rarely even apologized for it anymore. She just let it be.

Instead she laughed. She danced. She sang. She created. She was silly. She made mistakes. She moved on. She began to believe in herself again. She made time for the things that mattered and didn't feel guilty for letting the rest go. She became wise in understanding she could never be what others wanted her to be if she was not honoring herself. After years of putting herself last in line she made time for herself. She became a calmer, happier, better version of herself.

She lost friends, but gained her self-respect.

She made mistakes, yet bounced back with inner reserves she once didn't believe she had.  

She grew weary of games, drama, and judgment. She stopped trying to figure it all out, to stay ahead of the game, and just made time and space to be herself, to fuel her soul.

Following her heart gave her the positive energy to live life her way. To lead with trust, knowing and belief. Her journey up from rock bottom brought her ever closer to the person she was always meant to be.

It took great courage to dare to fall apart, but she now understood the reward was worth it.





Finding Her Worth

And when she allowed herself to feel worthy—something shifted in her. Doors began to open that long had remained closed.

She stopped following everyone else’s rules.

And she began to think on her own.

She found if she listened close, she could hear her own heartbeat again.

With practice it grew louder, stronger, and braver.

Slowly, but with great emotion, she began to blossom.

Her magic began to return in little and big ways.

It started with great sadness at everything.

Then she began to notice beauty all around. Her corner of the world went from grey to brilliant, nearly overnight. She was filled with an energizing wonder. And fueled by awe.

There were leaves on the trees again, dragonflies who landed on her big toe, and sparkles of light on the water that she was certain were a million tiny angels waiting to play.

There was beauty in the sun, in the trees, and in the smiles of every person she encountered.

Her body felt lighter, freer and her spirit began to soar.

To fly.

Like she used to in her dreams when she was little.

In the worst of times she dreamed of tornadoes, teeth falling out, finding money that wasn’t really there and dirty bathrooms. She lived in fear, surrounded by worry, and desperately trying to control everything around her.

Now her dreams were of happier things.

Slowly she stopped being scared that she was doing it all wrong. She un-clenched the tight muscles of her body. She breathed.

Because the fear of screwing it all up had already happened. She had failed. She wasn't perfect, nor she realized, would she ever be. And dwelling on all her past mistakes, both large and small, only kept her trapped.

So she tried something new.

She began to believe in herself again. To take back her power.

And with the courage and joy that came along with the newfound freedom of following her heart, she allowed herself to start doing it all right.

Her way.

She rediscovered the magic.

She found the love.

And all that had once been a distant dream, a hopeful wish, became hers.

She not only began to flourish; she was able to breathe fully for the first time in forever.

 She listened to another voice inside now, and this one was kinder and gentler.

It forgave, it loved, it was compassionate. It didn't judge.

And it said all the right things to bolster her confidence.

And on the day when the voice told her she was indeed worthy of everything she ever dreamed.

She cried.

And cried.

Until the tears finally changed from sadness to relief. No longer were they heavy tears she tried to stem.

Instead the happy, joy-filled tears fell unabashedly, cleansing her soul of years of struggle.

And she began to float with the current, instead of frantically swimming upstream.

Her spirit felt hopeful.

The world was no longer the hostile, busy, noisy, draining place she had allowed it to be.

And since he was no longer fighting so hard to be something she was not, she was at ease in her body.

She became peaceful. Calm. Quiet. A better version of herself.

And when the now tiny mean voice inside tried to make her feel guilty for all the years she wasted trying so hard, she reminded it that it no longer had power over her. She was the one in charge.  

Now when she meets people who struggle like she once did, she wants to shout from the rooftops that it doesn’t have to be so hard. But she knows that everyone has to learn their lessons in their own time.

And nearly everyone not living authentically as their true self needs to hear a new gentler voice inside.

One that says all the right things.

You are worthy.

You are good.

You are loved.

You are blessed.

You are powerful.

You are enough.

Because she now knows if you believe in yourself, your whole world changes.

You CAN soar.

Permission to Thrive

You can do it. Yes, you really should do it. C'mon, what are you waiting for?

Is something holding you back from truly going for what you want out of life; either in your relationship, your career or your dreams? I ask this question seriously...could it be you?

Could YOU be holding yourself back, letting your small self take over and highlight only the possible pitfalls if you move forward in the direction of your dreams, instead of illuminating the possible positives? Whether you are aware of it or not, YOU might be doing a whole lot of self-sabotaging before you even begin to get things rolling in the right direction.

Would it be easier to move forward if someone else told you exactly what you should do?

Oh yeah. At least I think it would be for me. Deep down I know I don't need anyone else's permission to start my own forward motion; yet I seek it. Too often. And I seem to let others stop me in my tracks when their version of what I should do doesn't match up to the one in my heart. I sometimes wonder if I think that their aligning with my vision, their permission/confirmation in a sense, is what I am after when I ask a question or broach a new idea and when they don't my small voice jumps in and says "see, I told you it was a dumb idea".

Maybe secretly we all seek permission from others. Why? In my convoluted way of overthinking, if someone told me exactly what to do it would take away most of the uncertainty, and it would also make it someone else's fault if I tried and failed. Someone else to blame if things go badly. (Did I really just admit that?). Our minds do strange things when we seek to ensure there will be no failure ahead. And, I suppose on a deeper level, getting permission from someone else to 'go for it' makes me feel like I am not alone.

Are you waiting to choose a path that would please everyone around you? Are you waiting for the path to be so clear you have no doubt about the next step, eliminating your need for trust and faith (in yourself). Are you waiting for a sign that the time is "right"?

If so, you will be waiting for (possibly) ever.

YOU are responsible for starting your own forward motion. YOU and you alone need to take the first step. You need to give yourself both permission to thrive, and permission to fail at the same time; as there are no guarantees. Ever.

I am posting/repeating this for my own benefit as much as yours. I am still stuck, still scared to start down a path that isn't clear. I want someone to tell me what to do.  Tell me to write that book (and tell me what to write about as well), or to open a shop/studio or to start an online school, or to just go on and get a real job already. Or I want someone to say you are exactly what I need to do "this", let's do "this" thing together, and I think in my head that would be so much easier because if we fail, we fail as a team, and that won't be as bad as standing there holding the shame/regret/failure bag alone.

As a recovering control freak, I want the path ahead to be clear. I want to see all the way to the end result before I even begin. Silly, I know. And that is why on some deep level I understand everyone who crosses my path who is also secretly seeking permission.

Because I, too, want the same permission to thrive. And, I seek this from outside of me and what I really need is to grant myself the permission from within to move forward. To believe in myself. To take a chance on me. To go for it. 

When people come to me for coaching help, the answer they seek is always within them. The power is always in their own red shoes. My job may be to help them dig in and dig out what is important, to listen, to work them toward feeling better in their body or cleanse their spirit, or to point out roadblocks they need to work through, but"permission" for them to move forward, that is all within.

Permission to thrive. It comes from within. It is in you and it is in me. Let's make a deal: let's do "that" together, grant ourselves permission to move forward in the direction our heart is telling us to go, with no guarantees.  C'mon, we can do it!

Taking Action

Ready. Set. Jump.

I love it when people call me fearless.

I also dread it.

Especially when my inner voice screams "not true, you are not fearless, not by a long shot."

I suppose I believe that if  I were truly fearless then I would march off and take action on the things I believed in, and in doing so would make a difference in the world around me. As I write this I am realizing that I have not fully grown past the if, then  futuristic thinking pattern that once ruled me. I thought I had.

To me standing in your personal truth, believing in yourself, and allowing your dreams to grow wings --those actions spell fearless to me. And if that is my gauge, no wonder I fall so far short of believing that I am capable of fearless.

A truly fearless person would go after what they want.

I don't do that well. I still find reasons (or excuses) to procrastinate, to abort, or to divert. I allow myself to get caught up in way too many detours and distractions. Self-sabotage?

I've tried at different times in my life to take action in what seems like the right direction, but I end up letting my inner voice (or someone else' s voiced fears) stop me in my tracks. I've wondered if my heart was not truly into those ideas I left behind, or if I am just scared of committing fully to a path in case it is the "wrong" one. Whatever the reason, I begin things with enthusiasm and passion, and then I stall.

There should be no fear in truth.

Why are so many women of my age afraid to stand fully in our truth?  Is it because we have been taught to worry about what it looks like from the outside, a what-will-the-neighbor's-think mentality we inherited from our mothers and grandmothers? Or is it fear?

We really should be worried more about how it feels on the inside, than what it looks like on the outside---shouldn't we?

Creativity, whether with words, a paintbrush, a camera, a sewing machine, a series of music notes, lies within all of us. And it is nothing short of scary to share outwardly what comes from the deepest parts of our soul. Yet we cannot allow ourselves to stay safe in our skin, never expressing  fully what we feel in our soul, or it will extinguish our light.

The truth, who we really are, is deep within our soul. It is in that creative space where all our  goodness and brokenness awaits the chance to fully express itself. To shine a light outward and make our unique difference.

A truly fearless person would have already written the book I tell people I am writing. They would have let go of the negative thoughts that they aren't really a writer, or they aren't a good enough one anyway. And they would let go of thinking they have nothing unique or original enough to share.

I need to let my light shine. In my own unique words. And I need to do it without expectation and without worrying about the consequences.

I took a step today in the direction of fearless. I signed up to attend the Storyline Writers Conference this fall outside of Chicago. Investing in my dream. Investing in me.

As I continue to evolve and grow into the best me I can be, I thank those who see me as fearless. Your support encourages me to keep going. To keep trying. To believe in myself.

I am pretty sure I see fearless, and she is just around the corner.

I Lied by Omission like no other.

It's true, I lied this week.

And, I never lie. But this time I did…I lied about my biggest fear(s).

I said that my biggest fears were: not moving forward, being helpless, or being insignificant (not mattering).

And I left one out, the biggest one. I lied by omission.

What I couldn't say is that my biggest fear is losing one of my children. I couldn’t say it because it  just happened to my best friend from high school. She lost her 18 year old daughter in a tragic and unexplainable car accident.

In the blink of an eye, Addie is gone, and she's never coming back.

It is the scariest thing ever to think about. It’s been two weeks and I still cannot wrap my head around it. I cannot imagine how my friend felt/ feels. I just can't. It hurts too much to try, and it makes it all so incredibly real. I cannot fathom the depths of her pain.

When I heard the news that Addie was gone, it rocked me so hard I could barely breathe. Who can imagine anything more awful than losing your child? I know I can’t.

And it scares me so much I couldn't admit the truth to you before.

But I went with my friend to Iowa to attend the memorial service and I have seen her strength. My friend is a survivor. She will face this as she has so many challenges in her life, and she will survive. Her strength inspires me to tell the truth about my lie.

My biggest fear is losing a child. 

My prayers are with my friend, her son and the many who loved princess Addie.  She will never be forgotten.




What is Your Biggest Fear?/ Question of the Week #14

fearWhat are you scared of? What terrifies you the most? What holds you back from being the best you?

While these kinds of questions don't always bring out the positive in us, they do make us face up to what lies beneath. I have read that the biggest lens of all is our own denial. So, how would your life improve if you faced your biggest fears head-on? Would it take away the worry that gives you  insomnia? Would it help you be able to make a decision and move forward on something that you have been stalled on? Would you take a risk instead of playing it safe? Change your job? Get out of an unhealthy relationship?

Facing our biggest fears is sometimes exactly what we need to do to get the courage to move forward.

What is Your Biggest Fear? / Question #14

My biggest fears would be: not moving forward, being helpless, or I suppose being insignificant. (not mattering).

Yes, I have irrational fears like roller coasters, snakes, mice, cockroaches, lice etc. but those aren't the kinds of fears I'm asking about. I am talking about the deep kind of fears, the ones that paralyze you from living the life you really want.

A lot of people will put fear of  failure on their list. I don't. That doesn't mean I am a risk taker (far from it) but once I set a path, I really don't worry about failing. I believe that giving your all, doing your best (which I always strive to do) means you won't  really "fail" even if things don't work out the way you once thought. The knowledge gained along that journey, to me, is forward progress. It is the being stuck and not moving forward, or not learning from my mistakes that scares me most.

I'm in a sense facing one of my biggest fears in life right now. I'm feeling stuck. What should I do next? What one of my many ideas/dreams/passions should I put my forward motion and energy behind? In having too many options, I am finding myself slightly paralyzed. And that scares me most of all.

I have faith that I will figure it out, it will all make sense-- soon. But this waiting is totally nerve wracking for a doer like me.

I wish you the courage to answer this thoughtfully. To really think it through and identify your fears. The ones that lie deep within. In acknowledging them, I have no fear you will grow stronger. Braver. Better.