Nicole K, Author at Stratejoy
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And now the time has come to say goodbye. I hate goodbyes – like really hate them. I’ve been known to stay friends with people or stay in relationships far too long because I have such an aversion to goodbyes.

And As my Elevate loves can tell you, I’m a goodbye crier.

I will try my best not to have a tearstained keyboard while I type this, but I’m not making any promises.

When I sat down to write this last post, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I’ve told Molly so many times how incredibly thankful I am for the opportunity, and I definitely mean it. I just can’t believe we’re at the end already.

For anyone who has been following my posts and entertaining the idea in the back of your mind – please apply when Molly opens the next season up. It really is a fantastic experience. You won’t regret it!

To my Season 7 girls – I adore you! We are all in different points in our lives, but we have these common threads that allow us to relate to one another. My life is infinitely better for having “met” all of you and shared this experience. I hope that we will stay in touch and continue to watch each other reap the benefits of taking this time for ourselves to learn and grow.

To Miss Katie – I adore you as well! You sweet, sweet woman who gives so much of herself to others even when she is unsure of where her own life is headed. You were the perfect blogger momma for us and I’m so happy to know you. And if I ever meet you in person, I will so hug you into infinity. You better learn to like hugs, lady! 😉

Lovely Molly – You know how I feel about you, but I can’t say it enough. You are an amazing person. You have changed the lives of many in the tribe for the better. You have bared your beautiful soul to us and created this space where we can be open and vulnerable and support one another. I really believe you are filled with magic. I’m beyond thankful that you’ve shared the magic with me! Thank you for this amazing opportunity.

When I think about where I am today compared with five months ago, I really am astounded. I went back to my goal post to see if I accomplished any of those goals I set for myself. Some of them I have done more than others, but what struck me was just the tone of my writing and the numerous comments I made about feeling out of touch with myself.

I still don’t have everything figured out, but I’m infinitely more in tune with my own desires and what I want out of life. At the time I wrote the goal post, I could only focus on a few small things because I wasn’t confident enough in anything to actually declare a goal.

I now have a gorgeous goal sheet that is bursting with ideas and hopes and dreams that I want to tackle this year. All of that is because I’ve been given this gift of weekly reflection and writing for all of you.

Thank you all so much for reading and commenting, supporting me during the weeks that weren’t so positive, and making me feel like a NORMAL person. 

Since I really love to write and talk about myself, I’ll be using my writing energy to blog more often on my personal blog, Nicole Loves. You can find me there or follow me on twitter to see how I use all this newfound positive energy to shape my life into the life I’ve always dreamed of.

And now I’ll leave you with a line from one of my favorite movies EVER – Pretty Woman. Ms. Kit De Luca says…

“I gotta split ’cause goodbyes me me crazy – so take care of you.”

Goodbye loves! xoxo

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Image via: Flickr

 

A Note From Katie: I’ve been a hot mess all week. Although life is jam packed with uncertainty, I always knew I’d hear from you every single week and we’d chat it out, talk about our hate for technology. It’s that routine that became so incredible for me throughout this entire season. But YOU have been a bright, cheery addition to this Season, Miss Nicole. I can see how far you’ve come. As I went back and read everyone’s posts from all season long, I noticed too that your tone had changed. You’re still as beautiful a writer, but you’re a bit more clear on what you’re looking for. And that growth is what this experience is all about. I will absolutely be following you around like crazy, making sure you’re doing fine, staying up to date on ALL THE THINGS, and planning + plotting the moment I can tackle hug you. I’d do it for you.  <Insert obnoxious, teary karaoke version of “That’s What Friends Are For” here!> . So many X’s and so many O’s!

240731542552026114_Yb4YysjJAhhh! Interview week!

It’s totally bittersweet for me, but I think this was my most favorite week of the whole season! It was so much fun to see the questions my fellow Season 7 rockstars came up with and I had a blast answering them.

You may learn a few things about me that you didn’t want to know and for that I don’t really apologize…I’m quirky and I’m told its a pretty lovable trait. ENJOY!

Where do you see your self (or hope to be) 6 months from now? A year from now? 

In 6 months, I’m hoping to have a new job as a wellness coach {preferably working from home}. I will have the Elevate retreat, BiSC and a trip to the NC beaches under my belt and be reveling in all the magical memories I’ve made in 2013. I’ll be feeling connected to my authentic self and be fine-tuning my life to reflect that.

In a year, I hope to be feeling settled in my new career, and fresh off of another successful Holiday Council. I’m hoping that next year I’ll be feeling ready for a year filled with peace and enjoyment following all the changes I’m making in 2013. I imagine that participating in Elevate this year will push me well beyond my comfort zone and into that sacred zone of authenticity I’m seeking. So anything I do in 2014 and beyond will just be that much more awesome because it’ll be coming from a place of authenticity and fierce self-love.

What’s the best book you read this year? 

Well since I’m completely addicted to erotica – I’d have to say that Bared to You and Reflected in You by Silvia Day were my favorites. But the Fifty Shades trilogy was a close second. Try as you might, you will not get me to admit how many times I’ve read each of these books, but it’s a shameful amount! {Maybe these should be listed for the guilty pleasure question too!}

Do you feel like blogging about your life made you look at it differently?

Absolutely! I think I benefitted immensely from having to actually articulate my thoughts. While I’m not as good at it as some of my fellow bloggers, I did manage to stumble upon some realizations that I would never have made if I hadn’t been writing for an audience. Knowing that people were reading and possibly identifying with my transition made me dig a little deeper than I might otherwise have done.

Which current living celebrity do you think you’d be best friends with in real life?

I mean, I’m pretty amazing so I think they would all love me. But I have a thing for adorable southern girls. I’m just so fascinated by them and completely enthralled. So I think a spunky southern girl like Miranda Lambert, Kellie Pickler or Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland would be my ideal celeb bestie.

Did anything happen during the season that surprised you? 

Several people that I know in real life contacted me mid-season to say they had been following my posts and really identified with them. I hadn’t expected that! At all.  If I’m being honest, I was surprised when you lovely internet friends commented or tweeted me because I half expected most people to not relate to my self-perceived problems. So surprises all around!

What quote best summarizes what you’ve learned during the season?

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think you lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” – Asha Tyson

What is your guilty pleasure? What is it that totally lights you up that you’re afraid to admit to? 

Well I’m not sure some of you can handle anymore guilty pleasure admissions from me…BUT since you asked – I have a thing for really juvenile romantic comedies. Movies like A Cinderella Story, Freaky Friday, What a Girl Wants, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants {1 & 2!}, 13 Going on 30, The Prince & Me, The Princess Diaries, Son in Law, Uptown Girls – all in my DVD library. I’m not sure whether this or my smut addiction should be more shameful. But you can bet I’m not losing any sleep trying to decide!

What is the biggest change you’ve noticed in yourself since we started blogging for Stratejoy?

I’m happier. I’ve relaxed my expectations of myself a bit and tried like hell to lose the guilt. I’m enjoying what I have in the present and not pinning all of my happiness on some future date or accomplishment. It’s fabulously liberating!

How did you fit blogging into your life? – Did you have a routine? Did it add joy or stress? Did you think about it over the week or just sit down and write? Etc.

I have a really random writing process to begin with and I knew it would be a bit of a challenge going into this adventure. I found that some weeks I was really inspired to write and others I was letting all the shit in my head get in my way. All those voices that say I’m not a great writer, no one will identify, my problems aren’t big enough for anyone else to care – they can all overwhelm me and leave me with the worst writer’s block. Add in the health problems I had in the fall and the plague that my little one and I both had twice and you can see why some weeks were more of a challenge. Thankfully, the completely adorable and wonderful Katie is a loving blogger momma and she put up with my incessant tardiness. {Love you sweet Katie!}.

I’d say overall the experience added joy to my life though. While I did struggle at times, the need to write something that seemed worthy of sharing was a great motivator to look more closely at myself and inspired some awesome discoveries! I am forever grateful to Molly for allowing me to be a part of Season 7! For the small amount of stress it caused – it added 10 times that much joy. So I’m pretty sure that’s what winning looks like.

How did people you know react? – did you share it openly, were family and friends supportive, did you censor yourself, etc.

I’m the kind of person who worries what other people think about me and I wasn’t sure how anyone would react – so I didn’t tell everyone I know in real life. As the season progressed, I found myself sharing with more people than I originally did. I didn’t have a single person judge me negatively – everyone had a positive reaction. I was honestly amazed that so many people could relate to my issues – which seems ridiculous to write because the whole premise of Stratejoy is that we all have these things that we struggle with and it brings us together to love and support each other and then realize we are all NORMAL. Why I didn’t think this same premise applied to the people I know in real life seems a little silly now.

Did you dig as deep as you could and open up as much as you could?

The simple answer is no. There just isn’t enough space for me to share all the chaos in my head when I’m limited to 500-1000 words per week. But I shared openly and honestly about the transition I’m going through. I share even more about myself on my personal blog so feel free to visit if you just can’t get enough of me!

When you’re curled up on the couch reading with a mug of something warm, what’s the book and what’s in the mug?

I drink a ridiculous amount of coffee {though I’m strictly drinking decaf now} so I’m sure I’d have coffee in my mug. I’m either reading some of the smut I mentioned in a previous question or some story about a group of girls that travels and has fabulous experiences. Because apparently my life is fueled by coffee, sex and wanderlust! Win!

What’s on your bedside table?

A hair tie, one earring, an iphone dock, a picture of me and the little person when she was a baby and a water bottle. Clearly I need some lessons in styling!

What were you like in high school?  What parts of you have remained the same?

Hmmm…high school. This is a tough one. I feel like high school was a bit of a blur. I went to a really, really small school {like 40 people in my class small} and we were all obsessed with having long-term boyfriends. Mine was older so I spent the vast majority of my time from sophomore year on with people who had already graduated. I didn’t partake in all the fun high school things. I rode a Harley with my boyfriend and watched his band play gigs in bars and whatnot. I was waaay too cool for high school. Of course, looking back I can see I was just a lost girl looking for somewhere to belong.

I didn’t really share my innermost thoughts with my peers. I was nice and had plenty of friends – I was even voted Miss Senior and was on the prom court junior and senior years. But I was more concerned about graduating so I could get married and have babies. I’ll go ahead and insert all the lyrics of “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks here because THANK GOD those prayers were not answered! I’m not sure I can say that I’m anything like my high school self, but then I’m an old lady. 2013 marks 15 years since I graduated. Wowza, where has the time gone?!?!

Who are the top 5 people on your “list”?  (You know, the list…  Those 5 people you could sleep with if you magically met them and your partner would have to be okay with it, because damn! You just slept with Johnny Depp!) 

Oooh, such a naughty question! I love it. And maybe I’m just boy crazy, but I hardly think 5 covers it!  So…

Sam Seaborn – {West Wing-ers tell me you agree!} He’s pretty much my ideal man. Be still my heart!

Chace Crawford – I don’t even care that he smokes pot. He’s beautiful.

Channing Tatum – Hi, did you see Magic Mike? Gah!

Bradley Cooper – Back off ladies! I get him first!

Ian Somerhalder – Those eyes, that jaw, the smile, OH MY!

And honorable mentions for Patrick Dempsey, Josh Lucas and Gerard Butler. I mean, I’m not going to turn them down or anything.

If you could give yourself 5 months ago one piece of advice, what would it be? How about you 5 months from now?

Worry less. Don’t lose sleep or sanity about things you can’t change. And stop caring what other people think. Make yourself happy and let the rest go.

In the movie of your life, which actress/celeb would play you? 

If I get to choose, then I totally pick Blake Lively. I mean, could she BE any more gorgeous? And that hair. We’ll pretend like the slight resemblances we have {i.e. long blondish hair and blue eyes} make her the perfect choice. Great, it’s settled. Nice to have you on board!

There you have it. If you have a great answer to one of the questions, I totally want to hear it in the comments below!

Guilty pleasures or “list” candidates anyone???

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Image via: Pinterest!

 

p.s.  The 3rd Stratejoy Essay Contest is open for entries!  Ready to win the $500?  Be featured here at Stratejoy?  Yes!  The theme: “How has a transition revealed a more authentic you?”

p.p.s.  The next Book Club/Tribe Chat Fest is going to be about marriage and partners.  Juicy, juicy. We’re reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Love Story and will be jamming about it on February 13.

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Here we are just past the middle of January. It’s a new year and so many people have new goals they are trying to tackle.

Many of you reading this likely have a theme for your year too. {If you do, share with me! I love to hear them!}

I’ve never been through the process of setting a theme and values for the year. I’ve set many resolutions, but I had no idea of the why behind them. Not surprisingly, they rarely stuck past the first couple of weeks of the year.

This year feels different.

Maybe it’s because I’ve declared the things I value this year and gave myself a powerful {to me} theme. Maybe it’s because I’ve let desires lead my goals.

I’ve chosen these things not because they are arbitrary goals, but because I expect they will make me feel the way I want to feel.

Even with all of the work I’ve done in preparation for the year, and all the excitement I have for the promise that 2013 holds for me, I’m worried about what will happen when the newness of the year starts wearing off.

I’m worried my old mindset will start creeping back in. 

It would be so easy to go back to what is comfortable. Pretty much all of my goals this year are pushing me outside of that comfort zone.

But this year, I want to grow. I want to improve my quality of life.

I want to be someone I can count on to get things done that are important to ME.

So I definitely don’t want to take the road that’s comfortable.

I’m so beyond thankful that just when I’m starting to worry about all the new goals and the draw of the comfort zone, I have Elevate coming.

I have 13 amazing women to inspire me, kick my ass into gear, and the lovely Molly to guide and support me – and to call me out on my bullshit when I need it. {Cue happy dance!}

I’m not at an official review point, but I stepped back this week to look at everything I’ve already accomplished. I’m still getting myself set up for the year, but I’m pretty impressed with everything I’ve done so far.

Because I’m obnoxiously Type A, I made myself a list of all the steps I’ve already taken towards those big, sexy goals on my list.

I’m sure there are more things I have done, but these are the big ones that came to mind right away. I’m pretty excited that I’ve accomplished this much in 2 or 3 weeks.

I can only imagine all the amazing things I can make happen this year with all the support and motivation I have.

I honestly believe this will be my best year yet!

Bring it on 2013!

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Image credit: Flickr

p.s.  The 3rd Stratejoy Essay Contest is open for entries!  Ready to win the $500?  Be featured here at Stratejoy?  Yes!  The theme: “How has a transition revealed a more authentic you?”

p.p.s.  The next Book Club/Tribe Chat Fest is going to be about marriage and partners.  Juicy, juicy. We’re reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed: A Love Story and will be jamming about it on February 13.

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Well I’ve mostly recovered from being sick, and the Elevate retreat is inching closer {ohhellyes!!}. I’ve started working on some of my goals I set for the year and I’ve continued working on my 26 Acts project.

It really is amazing how good it can make you feel to do something nice for someone else – even if you don’t get any credit or even know the person you’ve helped.

So while I’ve been feeling incredibly happy and peaceful about everything I have planned for 2013, I have this other side of me that isn’t even close to happy and peaceful.

It is the strangest feeling to have these conflicting emotions running through me. 

This week my little one started back to school after her winter break. She was home most of the week before break with the plague that we’ve been fighting off so I was pretty used to her being here again.

She’s only been going to 3/4 day kindergarten up til this point because she just wasn’t ready for the full day. We chose Christmas as the deadline and have been psyching her up for starting full days after winter break.

I knew it would be hard on both of us, but I want her to be ready for first grade next year.

I wrote before about how the events in Connecticut affected me, and I’m definitely still feeling the effects. To add insult to injury, our school district has had two situations now where ammunition found in the school or on the property has caused the schools to lockdown for all or part of the day.

If you have never experienced this with your child, let me tell you it is pure hell.

You are not allowed to pick up your child until the “all clear” is given so you sit helpless and worried that something terrible is happening or that your baby is scared and confused and wants her mommy.

Either way it consumes your time and thoughts until you can see that sweet face at the end of the day.

After the Sandy Hook event, I gave some serious consideration to homeschooling, but I’m just not sure if I’m cut out for homeschooling all on my own. I have spent five years at home with my daughter and I feel like she needs to have time away from me to experience the world through the eyes of her friends and teachers.

She needs to develop the ability to problem solve without me there to fix things, she needs to make friends and frenemies and play schoolyard games. She would miss out on so many experiences if I chose homeschool her.

But is that choice at the cost of her safety? I can’t answer that with any certainty.

There are no guarantees in life.

There are always risks.

But it seems that more and more places we once believed carried an acceptable level of risk are now outright danger zones. Of course, this is concerning for every person who frequents public places, but it is magnified times a million when you are a parent.

If someone had warned me that having a child was so anxiety-provoking, I may have chosen to be a crazy cat lady. Seriously.

Of course, I would never take it back now because I absolutely adore my little person. But it’s one of the reasons I’ve chosen not to have any more children.

Some of you who read this may think I’m off my rocker {and trust me, I wonder that sometimes too!} but this is an honest struggle for me. I’m scared and confused and worried that I’ll make the wrong decision.

Since I’ve been sitting down and writing about my life on a weekly basis, I’ve learned so much about myself.

I’ve seen little bits of my authentic self shining out amidst the guilt and confusion.

I really am proud of my journey to this point. I feel like I’ve come so far.

But that other side of me feels like I’m still stuck in the same place. I’m still a mom who feels like she has to choose between pursuing her own dreams and being the best mom she can.

I don’t really know how to reconcile these two sides of me.

Maybe I need to go to therapy.

Maybe Molly and my wonderful Elevate girls {who I also adore!!} can help me find better balance in my life.

I guess we’ll see as the year unfolds.

For now I’m taking it one day at a time and hoping I have more days where I feel happy and peaceful than days where I feel fearful and guilty.

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Image via: Flickr

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Well Christmas has come and gone. New Year’s Eve and all the hype have passed. All the buildup for family time, presents, Santa, and the promise of the new year have all waned in importance. Most people are back to business as usual.

Here at my house, we have another day of winter break before school starts back up on Tuesday. My little person is missing her friends and can’t wait to get back to school.

I’m less enthusiastic than she is, but I know it is important for her to get back to her normal routine.

Even though we’re settling back into normalcy after the hustle of the holidays, I can already tell this year is different.

Since the Holiday Council started last month, it hasn’t been far from my mind. I tried hard to keep up with all the calls and worksheets, and was mostly successful for the first two weeks. When I got to the third week, I had some problems.

I’d let go of the things from 2012 that were no longer serving me. I thought hard about what kind of year I want to have in 2013 and came up with a theme and a vision board. I had values and was working on priorities and then it felt like I hit a roadblock.

When I tried to fit my goals for the year with my declared theme and values – it just didn’t work.

I felt overwhelmed and so much like the lost girl I was when I started writing for all of you.

Some of my problem was likely related to the virus I’ve been fighting off for the past month, but I really wanted to get my goals and action plans set before the new year actually started.

I took a short break for the holidays, then found some inspiration and support from my Elevate girls, and took another shot at the worksheets from week three. I wrote down all of the things I had in my head that I wanted to tackle in the new year {which turned out to be an insanely large list!}.

What I kept getting hung up on was the priorities vs values in the worksheets. I felt like choosing 20 things to do this year was too limiting for me. Not because I want to be a major over-achiever or something, but I have a number of smaller changes I want to make, in addition to a few larger changes. And I have more than 5 categories that I want to address.

The Holiday Council was tremendously helpful for me, but I was pressuring myself to fit my goals and aspirations into the exact system Molly has developed.

Once I allowed myself to do what worked best for me, things fell into place much more naturally.

When I looked over my list of goals for the year, it was pretty obvious what my theme for 2013 should be.

2012 was a year of awakening for me. I feel like I woke up and realized that I wasn’t living an authentic life. I’ve been saying that I want things to change, and I’ve written and analyzed my situation to death.

Now is the time for action.

I’ve said time and again that I want 2013 to be the year that I take action on all these things I’ve been dreaming up. And so my 2013 theme was born.

Take Action as a theme works for me because I can use it to keep myself on track, and push myself to accomplish my {seemingly} massive list of goals. I can’t think of a better time to tackle all of this than the year when I have Elevate to keep me accountable and empower me to take on the world.

Since I settled on my new theme for the year, I’ve felt peaceful. I’ve felt sure of myself and what I’m going to accomplish instead of feeling uncertain.

I’ve never started a year like this – I’m almost giddy from the excitement and anticipation. But also from the calmness that comes with having a plan and knowing my life is going to change for the better.

Maybe I won’t accomplish everything on my list in one year, but I plan to take full advantage of all the support I have. This is my year, and I’m going to rock it!

Happy New Year, soul sisters!

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What a week this has been. Last week I was riding high on endorphins and inspiration. I was feeling like I could tackle anything that came my way. But if I’m being honest, a tiny part in the back of my mind was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I know that sounds pretty negative, but that’s kind of how my luck goes.

And just as I expected, the other shoe dropped.

I was excited and nervous about my post last Friday. It was pretty personal. It felt like baring my soul to all of you, but I was feeling so good that I couldn’t help but share all the good stuff that was surging through me.

Then the horrific tragedy in Connecticut happened. Any thoughts of myself evaporated in an instant. I spent most of the day Friday crying and counting down the minutes until I could pick up my baby girl from school.

If my twitter and facebook feeds are any indication, I think every parent in America was thinking along the same lines as I was.

Now I know there are highly divisive issues swirling around this tragedy, but this is hardly the appropriate place to discuss those so I will stay far away from them.

I will, however, tell you that I was affected in a major way. Maybe it’s because my daughter about the same age as the children who were killed. Maybe it’s because the town I live in is a similarly affluent community where there isn’t much crime. And suddenly this awful thing happened in a place that could easily have been my town.

Whatever the reason, I’ve had a hard time focusing on anything else.

I purposely limit my exposure to news in these kinds of situations because it doesn’t do me any good to sit and watch the interviews and the scared faces and all of that. Even with limited exposure, I’ve been having nightmares. I’ve been hyper-vigilant every time I’ve left the house.

I’ve been terrified that something will happen to my daughter.

By some stroke of luck {well lucky for my anxiety level}, my baby girl ended up being sick this week. She missed school on Monday and then Wednesday and Thursday.

She did go to school Tuesday before her fever came back and I literally had to force myself to drive out of the parking lot after I walked her to class.

The school district has tried to reassure the parents that they have safeguards in place that will keep our children safe, but it is really hard to leave your child somewhere when you feel like they are vulnerable.

School should be a safe place – where kids play and learn and make friends.

But now it’s not.

That illusion is shattered forever.

As the week has dragged on, I’ve considered homeschooling. I’ve talked about starting a homeschooling co-op with other moms. I’ve considered transferring my daughter to a small private school.

None of these options are the perfect solution so I will continue to struggle with the decisions until I can find some clarity on the topic.

While I’ve had a difficult time processing all my overwhelming emotions this past week, I’ve been trying to continue practicing gratitude. I’m thankful to have a {relatively} healthy child who fills my life with joy.

I have great sorrow for the families who can no longer say the same thing, and I feel compelled to do something to honor their short little lives. 

I stumbled upon a movement that Ann Curry of the Today Show proposed, and I immediately knew I had to take part in it. It’s called 26 Acts of Kindness, and is exactly what it sounds like. Twenty-six random acts of kindness, acts of any size, that demonstrate to others that there are still many good people living in the world.

It is so easy to become absorbed in our own lives, or to become overwhelmed with all the negativity that spews from the news channels all hours of the day. But there are still good people in the world. If you need proof of that, check out the facebook page or twitter hashtag for the 26 Acts movement.

It brings tears to my eyes to see all the photos and descriptions of the acts of kindness.

I know I didn’t lose my daughter in the tragedy, but I lost a little more of my faith in humanity. I’m hopeful that by continuing to be grateful for the good things in my own life, and sharing that goodness with {at least} 26 others, I can honor the 26 amazing lives that were taken in a senseless, evil act.

I’m not usually one to ask others to do things for me, but if you find yourself reading this post – I very politely ask you to consider joining the 26 Acts movement in any way that would fit into your life. The more of us who pay it forward, the more we can restore a little of that faith in the inherent goodness of humanity. 

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Image via : Flickr

The last few weeks I’ve experienced quite a range of emotions – from soul-aching sadness to heart-melting happiness. It has been quite a ride, but I’ve never felt more alive than I do right now.

I would imagine some of you watched Danielle LaPorte’s Goals with Soul video this week {if you haven’t, please DO IT!}. I couldn’t watch live, but I watched the recording the next day.

I cried through much of it. It spoke to my soul. It moved me. It inspired me.

This video she plays of women from all over the world sharing how they want to feel is powerful. Pure, raw emotion. So many beautiful, strong women who just want to feel good. Whatever their version of “good” is. And so many of us aren’t feeling these things that we crave on the most basic level.

I’m so incredibly grateful that we have such beautiful souls in Danielle LaPorte and Molly Mahar to share this gift they have with the world – I honestly believe they are changing the world, one woman at a time. I know my life is forever changed because of them and I’m willing to bet many of you reading can say the same.

Last week I was listening to Molly’s first Holiday Council call and she was talking about releasing the bad things from 2012. We did a visualization where we let the list of bad things go. I had tears streaming down my face. I was so overcome by the pain and sadness I felt in that moment.

But also, I could almost taste the freedom as I was watching the tiny pieces of paper soar down over the edge of the cliff in my mind.

I cried the next day too – some because the pain and hurt from this year were still lingering with me. And some because thinking about my year brought up those raw feelings from losing my sweet puppy, Emma. I laid in my bed and sobbed and sobbed until I had no tears left. I honestly lost track of time.

Instead of feeling weak or silly for crying, I let myself off the hook. I felt my feelings and they made my soul ache.

Since that day I’ve been feeling happy. Unshakably happy. I can’t explain why exactly, but I just feel more confident, more secure in the knowledge that I’m going to get there. Wherever I’m meant to be.

Of course, this was Molly’s intent in having us do such a visualization – we released the bad to make space for the good. I just didn’t expect it to affect me this much.

I was still feeling that happiness and sense of peace as I sat down to watch Danielle’s recording. Then my world was rocked in a major way.

After I finished watching, I jumped in the shower, my mind definitely still reeling. I put Boyce Avenue’s version of Just the Way You Are on repeat because it has been inspiring me this week – I thought it was because I’m a hopeless romantic and it speaks to that kind of overwhelming love I‘m enamored with.

But as I was standing in the shower thinking about my life, my desires, how I’ve gotten to this point in my life –  I began to weep {again!}. I had tears streaming down my face in this deep soul-cleansing crying. I vaguely remember hearing Alejandro Manzano’s voice  amping up – saying:

“Girl you’re amazing. Just the way you are. The way you are. The way you are. ‘Cause girl you’re amazing. Just the way you are.”

In that moment it came to me – I finally believed it. I am amazing. Not because someone loves me so much. Not because I’m beautiful and my hair is perfect. Not because my laugh is sexy, but because I’m me.

I’m amazing. Just the way I am. 

This is one of those life-changing revelations. I’ve been hearing Molly say this for months – on the Fierce Love recordings, the Holiday Council recordings and several other videos I’ve watched. She always says some version of “You aren’t broken. Nothing is wrong with you. You are enough.”

Each time it moves me {usually to tears}. It’s like she’s speaking right to my soul. I’ve tried like hell to believe it. I’ve hoped and prayed that it would sink in. It just hadn’t yet.

But today it did. I stood there in the shower, crying and smiling and dreaming about all the ways I could make this amazing light I have inside of me shine out into the world.

Much like the women in Danielle’s video, I have these cravings for my life.  When I imagine my ideal life or my ideal self – I want to be self-assured. Comfortable in my own skin.

I want to feel beautiful and feminine and sexy no matter what my pant size is or whether I straightened my hair or put on mascara.

I want to delight in the little things. I want to be present in the moments of my life. Connect deeply with my friends and family and truly enjoy the few precious moments we all have on this earth.

I want to feel vibrant and alive and like a life force that can’t be extinguished.

I want to feel powerful. Competent. Courageous. Like I can do anything I want to do.

I want to be spiritual – and not the way I grew up. I need fresh spirituality. A kind that fits into my life and the person that I am now.

I want to take adventures. Stand at the foot of mountains and marvel at the beauty and the massive size of them. I want to experience things that are bigger than myself.

I want to visit places, partake in experiences, engage in spiritual practices that make me realize I’m but a small part of the greater world around me. I want to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the world.

I want to be inspired and then inspire others.

I want to be a force for good. For health. For balance. 

I want to help my daughter grow into a confident, passionate woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it. The best chance she has at living that life is if I model it for her.

So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Image via: derekskey

Well my “ah ha” moment has come and gone. My life hasn’t suddenly turned into a magical wonderland, and I’m still feeling lost much of the time.

I take some comfort in the fact that I have a general idea of where I’m headed because that is way more than I had when I started this journey.

But I want more.

I’m facing some major changes in my life and I don’t like feeling this uncertain.

I wish I was the kind of person who didn’t fear change. I wish I didn’t have a massive fear of failure. I wish I was at the point where I trusted myself enough to make the right decisions. I’m really trying to be that person, I’m just not there yet.

I’m terrified that I’m going to make the wrong decision. I’ve already wasted time and money pursuing a career that turned out to be wrong for me. Then I did it again. What if I’m destined to be the girl who constantly changes her mind? What if I change my whole life to pursue yet another goal and then discover I got it wrong – again? I’m not sure how I would even handle that.

On one hand, I feel like I know myself better now than I ever have. I’m more in touch with my desires, my hopes and dreams, my strengths and even my weaknesses. But what if I’m wrong? What if I’m just so desperate to find myself that I’m inflating my interests into passions?

All of these questions have been rattling around in my head since my public declaration a few weeks ago. I’ve been trying to work through them, but I just haven’t reconciled all of it yet.

What I have done is explore a few options that could lead me to a career with a wellness focus. I applied to a graduate program in kinesiology, and was accepted for the Spring semester. I’ve researched a couple of certificates that I could obtain if I decide that graduate school isn’t my best option.

If I do decide to pursue another degree, there are still some hurdles to jump over. While the program is a great fit for my goals, isn’t exactly perfect for my life. My previous program was completely online so it was easy to fit into my schedule.

The new program would require me to attend class a couple of nights a week – and the campus is a little over an hour from my house. As much as I like the program, that is a big deal {and potentially a deal-breaker} for me.

I don’t mind driving to the campus, but it is far more complicated when I have a little person at home. I don’t know how she would cope with me being gone a couple of nights a week. Also, I don’t want to continue to work on the weekends and miss even more time with her so I’d have to find a part-time job during daytime hours that would work around my school schedule.

There are just so many details that need to be worked out that it starts to feel a little overwhelming. Somehow my “ah ha” moment has turned into a continual spiral of questions that I can’t seem to get a handle on.

The further I delve into my psyche, the looser my grasp on that ever elusive balance is. Instead of clarity I have confusion and fear.

I know I can’t let fear rule my life. At some point I have to choose to jump into the unknown or remain in the same stagnant place I’ve been. I’m trying hard to work up the courage to jump because I really don’t want to be in the same place when November 2013 rolls around.

Image via: Flickr

I’ve noticed something since my little person started kindergarten. At first I was emotionally overwhelmed. I couldn’t stand the fact that she was going to be away from me for the better part of the day. I’m used to being with her pretty much all the time.

Once I got over the initial OHMYGOD, MY BABY IS IN KINDERGARTEN shock, I’ve settled into a more relaxed acceptance of the whole situation. I think all the time we were spending together was making us both a little crazy. {Well me, for sure!}

I have a tendency to be overly emotional, I have impossibly high standards and I know I expect too much from others. When my expectations aren’t met, I can be kind of a pain in the ass.

I work really hard to remain calm and fair with the little person, but that is exhausting! I didn’t realize how much energy it was using up to control my natural tendencies.

Now that we have less time to spend together, I’m enjoying it so much more!

I know that sounds terrible, and before you start judging me – just hear me out. I love my little person more than I could ever articulate to you. I love to see her discovering all about the world – she’s so full of pure joy and delight.

But {yes, BUT!} we had gotten to the point where we weren’t filling our days with joy and delight. I was having all these feelings about what my life was missing and how that could affect her or my parenting. I would worry and berate myself for being selfish and then spiral down into general ickiness.

Mixing an overly sensitive, anxious momma who fears she is royally screwing up her child with a little person who is opinionated, independent and learning to push the limits to the very edge can make for some really difficult days.

Add in the long, cold days of winter or the long, hot days of summer and we spent quite a bit of time in the house. Together. Alone.

We got stir crazy. We got bored, We got sick of each other. And then I felt guilty for feeling like I needed a break from her.

Aren’t moms supposed to be wonderful, nurturing caretakers who always find joy in attending to the needs of their children? I can assure you that not every day looked like that at my house.

Since we’ve settled into the school routine, we’ve rediscovered that joy and relaxed play time that we had been struggling with the past year or so. I have less anxiety about her being away from me all day and I’m less worried about making sure she knows enough to start school.

Her teacher tells me she is right on target for her grade level and I’ve noticed her language, writing and drawing have accelerated dramatically since she started school.

I can’t help but feel a little sad and sentimental when I can see my baby growing up right before my eyes, but I’m so proud of the sweet, enthusiastic little person she is.

I have to admit that I’ve felt guilty for not talking about her more in my posts. I was chosen for Season 7, at least in part, because I was transitioning from full-time momma to the next phase. Naturally, that should include talking about said little person some of the time.

But I crave things that are mine alone. I don’t want being a mom to completely define me. I want to figure myself out so I can be the focused, passionate, fun-loving momma she deserves. {Hopefully you don’t think I’m rude for making this more about me!}

When I was thinking about how much Kaitlyn has grown up in such a short time, it struck me that I’ve had a transformation of my own. I’m nowhere near done with my journey of self-discovery, but having time apart seems to have benefitted us both immensely.

I can’t even express how excited I am about all my recent discoveries. I really hope I can continue on this path because I finally feel like I’m on the right one. Such a great feeling!

I’m still working on losing the guilt. I don’t know how I got to this place where I feel guilty about the way I behave. I’m a good momma to the little person. She is well taken care of, she knows she is loved. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me or maybe I’m letting perceived societal pressure get to me – whatever the reason, I really want to stop with the guilt already.

I would much rather set an example of a strong woman who boldly chased her dreams instead of hiding my authentic self away in favor of being a stepford mom.

Image via: ME!

I have some great news. Like life-changing news. I’m kind of surprised and giddy – and definitely ecstatic as I’m writing this.

You know how we’ve all been searching for purpose – spending our time journaling, blogging, reading and thinking about these big transitions in our lives?

Some of us have put it into words and others have just implied it, but we’re all searching for an “ah-ha” moment – the kind where we see a light shining through the fog of uncertainty. Where choirs of angels sing hallelujah and we suddenly have a whole life plan planted in our brains by some divine intervention.

Well that may be a tad dramatic, but hey if you didn’t already know this about me – I kind of have a flair for the dramatic. {Don’t judge me!}

Anywho, I’ve very recently had one of those coveted “ah-ha” moments. And now that I’m past it, I can’t even believe I didn’t see this sooner.

I’m not sure I would have gotten here if it weren’t for doing all the wrong things leading up to it. So now I can celebrate those things instead of regretting mistakes and missteps in my path thus far. I can’t tell you what that does for my sanity.

I feel lighter. I feel happier. I feel a little less lost in the big world with no idea where to go.

I’d been feeling like I was on the verge of this since I’d started blogging here at Stratejoy – I even told Molly so when we were discussing Elevate. It was so close I could almost taste it, but then it simultaneously seemed like I was never going to get there.

And then I did. And no choirs sang or lights shone. No secret life plan magically appeared. But with this clarity came peace.

Leading up to this, I’d spent a ton of time thinking about things that make me light up. The things I really enjoy doing that I could possibly turn into a career. It ended up being a decent sized list, but many of them aren’t things I actually want to pursue for one reason or another.

Next I made a list of the things I want out of life – I know I want to travel, have flexible work hours, possibly work for myself at some point, and I want to feel like I’m helping others. I want to empower someone else to improve their own life, especially women and young girls.

I feel really strongly about this particular demographic because I grew up with low self-esteem. I know what it feels like to feel bad about yourself, how hard it is to change when you don’t have a positive female role model who you really relate to.

Even into adulthood I’ve struggled with knowing who I am, what I want and how to love myself even when I don’t know the answers to these things.

I’ve longed to be a woman who felt she belonged in the world and had some positive contribution to the world. I want to change lives – and not because I want some glory or admiration for myself. This isn’t about me.

I want to show young girls and other women that their lives matter. That being comfortable in their own skin and taking good care of themselves is far better than chasing the latest trend and trying to be someone else.

I want to be a model of a woman who loves herself, who finds joy in ordinary places, who celebrates her individuality – and I want to pay it forward.

So what exactly was this “ah-ha” moment, you ask? Because I know I’ve been leading you on a little bit. And that is somewhat intentional and somewhat not. I’m not holding back for dramatic effect, but rather I’m indulging my natural tendency for storytelling.

I never realized this about myself until I was writing on a fairly regular basis. I’m not usually someone who can write informally and just pour out my thoughts. I’m a storyteller. I can see it when I look back over my posts thus far on Stratejoy, and on my personal blog. So this post will be no different.

I remember being in nursing school and absolutely hating it. I am completely enthralled with the human body and all that it is capable of. I could read for hours about the intricacies of each system and how they are all so interconnected. The problem, for me, arises when the focus turns to treating disease in the human body.

After I finished my bachelor’s in nursing, I thought that public health would be a good fit for me. It was less focused on the patient lying in the bed and more on the population as a whole. Public health focuses on preventing disease or restoring health after disease, but again it is on a broad scale – focusing on improving the health of the population.

This was better than nursing for me, but it still didn’t feel quite right.

After all this soul searching, talking to close friends, sharing with all of you and journaling my little rear end off – it clicked.

I’m passionate about wellness. I want to help individuals prevent diseases caused by poor diet, lack of exercise and high stress levels. I want to help young girls make health a priority and develop habits that will carry into adulthood.

I’m never more impassioned that when I’m discussing my latest workout regimen, sharing how to eat a cleaner diet, or thinking up ways to alleviate stress.

I haven’t settled on a specific job yet, but I have a ton of ideas.

Maybe I’ll work in corporate wellness – designing programs to encourage wellness behaviors and working with individual employees to achieve them. Maybe I’ll open my own gym or wellness center in the future. Maybe I’ll start a running group in my city. Maybe I’ll found a non-profit that focuses on the health of younger girls and gets them moving.

Who knows. But I’m excited to explore all these options, set some goals and get started.

Cue the angels, please!

Image via: Flickr

A couple weeks ago I crossed an item off of my life list – I traveled my happy little rear end to Chicago and ran in the Color Run  – well actually I walked because of my whole chest pain saga, but that’s just a minor detail. My color walk was still so freaking awesome!

What made it even better is that my brother flew in from Texas and my sister and her husband drove up with me to pick him up. We all stayed the night and then got up bright and early Sunday morning to join all the other color runners for the most amazing organized run I’ve ever done.

It really is the Happiest 5K on the Planet!

It had rained the entire night before the 5K, and the ground was seriously wet in the morning. But for those couple of hours we were wandering around downtown Chicago – the weather couldn’t have been much better.

Going through the color zones was just fun – you couldn’t help but smile and get caught up in the moment. We were covered in color from head to toe {even inside of our clothes and shoes we discovered!}, but we were like little kids in a sprinkler or something. So carefree and joy-filled.

Of course there were parts of the trip that didn’t go as well – like the near constant rain, the insane tsunami-like storm that hit while we were lost in downtown Chicago, my annoying chest pain and subsequent 8pm bedtime after we arrived. But those minor hiccups were offset by the many more good parts of the trip.

I can’t begin to express to you how much I love my siblings – they are awesome!

It’s amazing that we get along as well as we do, really. I’m 32 and they are 21 and 22, but somehow it works. We laugh at inappropriate things, act completely ridiculous, make fun of each other nonstop and just generally have a good time.

During the week after the trip, I got to thinking about the weekend and it hit me – these are the moments that I have been missing in my life. I don’t plan many of these trips because I inevitably feel guilty leaving the little person at home, or tell myself I shouldn’t spend too much money on selfish things.

Even though I had been trying to do more things for myself, I was still allowing myself feel guilty about them – like I didn’t deserve to have fun if she wasn’t with me. But not this time! I can honestly say that I had a fabulous time in Chicago – sans guilt!

If only you could see me right now – doing my little happy dance. Granted, it would probably look more like reckless limb flailing, but I assure you it’s dancing!

I’m so excited to discover that I’m giving myself permission to be myself. To have fun and enjoy my life for me and not solely as a momma. I make plenty of memories with my little person – exploring the world, sailing off to far-away make believe lands, and doctoring up more sick stuffed animals than I could ever count.

But the Color Run was for me. Every powdery, colorful, skin-staining minute of it!

I feel like I’ve inched ever so slightly closer to living a life I love. I hope I can continue moving in this direction!

 Image via: ME!

You know how sometimes it feels like the universe has it out for you? Well that’s kind of how the past few weeks have been for me. I’m sure losing my doggie had a lot to do with it, but I really thought I was coping with that pretty well.

I pride myself on being able to manage quite a bit of stress without completely breaking down. Some of it is because my job outside of raising a little drama queen is to help people with mental illness who are in crisis.

This often involves lengthy discussions about ways to relieve stress, methods of relaxation and how to develop positive coping skills when life continually dumps on you. And when all of this fails, we turn to pharmaceutical intervention {the prescription kind, I promise}.

Typically I’m able to take my own advice.

I don’t know if it’s just a perfect storm that has built up, but it turns out I wasn’t coping as well as I thought. About a week ago I started having a bunch of cardiac symptoms that progressed to the point that I’ve now had an ER workup, a visit with my primary doctor and a referral to a cardiologist.

Seriously, this doesn’t seem like it’s my life.

As a nurse it’s a pretty humbling experience to be on the other side of the healthcare system. Especially when you are a psych nurse and the ER doc is telling you she thinks you’re having chest pain caused by stress.

This is the kind of thing I help my patients with – it isn’t supposed to happen to me.

My cardiologist has ordered some further testing, but he believes it will likely turn out to be just a benign heart murmur or a minor heart valve problem. Neither of these should affect my quality of life in the long term, but would mean that my problems are, likely, a direct result of my stress level.

We all have a limit to the amount of crap we can have piled onto us before we stumble under the weight of the load, and apparently I have exceeded my limit.

I’m not telling you all this as some ploy for sympathy. I’d much rather never share this information with anyone who hasn’t witnessed it firsthand. But I don’t want to selectively share my life so that it makes me sound better or look more in control.

Some days I’m a mess. I’m not always in control and I’m definitely not perfect – much as the perfectionist in me would like to be. {Though I must admit, there is something slightly liberating about announcing that to the world.}

I’m not exactly sure why I take on so much or think that I can actually tackle that massive to-do list alone, but I continually push forward with this mentality. I suspect that much of it stems from being a perfectionist – I want to do everything myself that way I know it’s done “right.”

Clearly this mentality is not one I can maintain for the long term so I’m going to add another category to my list of goals – I want to learn to ask for and accept help when I need it, and realize that done is better than perfect.

I know Molly talked about this in a previous post, but I’m finding it really applies to my life right now. {That girl is so full of sparkly goodness – it’s no wonder we all love her!}

So now I’m waiting with bated breath to hear the cardiologist give me a clean bill of health and the ok to resume my normal activities {and let me have my precious coffee again!}. I’m also trying to continue taking baby steps forward without stressing myself out too much.

Once again I find myself seeking that elusive balance – something that people with an obsessive personality {like me!} don’t find easily!

Image via: Flickr

I was so excited to be chosen for Season 7 here at Stratejoy. I was surprised and could barely form a coherent sentence when Molly called me because I was so giddy.

As soon as I got the email with information about our first few posts, I got to work. I was excited to be writing, and had so many ideas and thoughts pouring out of me. Sometimes more ideas than I could fit into 500-1000 words.

As luck would have it, the universe decided to throw me a curveball after I wrote my third post. I’d just outlined my focus for the next few months and I was ready to get started on the things I’d challenged myself to do.

Then my sweet little boxer, Emma, got sick. Really sick. I’ve been dreading the day for many years because I knew it would be overwhelmingly painful for me. She has been my companion for eight precious years. But I couldn’t let her suffer so I sent her off to doggie heaven {as I told the little person}.

Naturally I was very emotional for the next few days. I didn’t venture out of the house. I ignored everyone’s calls and just let myself be sad.

I went to work that weekend and tried to get on with life. In the back of my mind, I was starting to get nervous. I’d been avoiding journaling because I wasn’t ready to write the story yet. I was avoiding writing my next post because everything I could come up with seemed trivial and uninspired. I was getting behind on my posts and it was stressing me out.

I started my usual spiral of negative self-talk. I told myself that I was going to fail at this. That I said all I have to say in the first few posts. That I was fooling myself by thinking I could write anything of value.

Sometimes it’s really ugly in my head. I don’t know how any of us can get to the point where we treat ourselves so horribly. I would never talk to one of my friends the way I talk to myself. Yet I continue to treat myself this way.

As the days slipped by and I still couldn’t write anything, I turned to my journal for inspriation. Maybe I’d find something in there that I could expand on. I reread a few entries and stumbled on one talking about my inner critic.

And there was Molly’s voice in my head telling me not to blindly believe the critic. To voice the bad thoughts so I would understand they aren’t the truth – and then move forward with the actual truth.

The truth is my inner critic was twisting my fears into factual statements. I am afraid to fail at this, but I don’t believe I have yet. I believe I’ll continue to rise to the challenge. I believe continuing to learn and grow is the purpose of blogging here – and I’m doing just that. One baby step at a time.

I watched a video recently of the lovely Nicole Antoinette speaking at WDS 2012. Her overall topic was running, but she discussed how big sexy goals are accomplished one tiny unsexy step at a time. {Obviously this applies to areas outside of running, as well}. Talk about the perfect time to stumble upon the video!

I didn’t take any giant leaps this week on my journey, but I did take one tiny unsexy step. I was able to recognize the negativity running rampant in my head and stop the cycle.

I know, life isn’t always going to go perfectly. In fact, it will likely be filled with many unexpected challenges. My hope is that I can get to a point where those challenges don’t set off a negative mental spiral. A point where I can treat myself with the love and forgiveness that I would show to others.

I definitely have a ways to go before I accomplish that goal, but I plan to continue on with all the baby steps. One foot in front of the other until one day I realize I’m living the life I’ve been striving for.

Photo credit: ME

 

Since I found out I’d be writing for all of you each week, I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about myself, my life and what the hell I want to do with it.

Sometimes I’m filled with grand visions that I can do something amazing. Change the world. Make a real difference.

Other times I’m so gripped with fear and self-doubt that I tell myself I’m not enough. I’m afraid I don’t have anything to share with the world that someone else hasn’t already put out there.

I’ve found myself easily slipping into the notion that my happiness and fulfillment rest on carrying out one of those grand visions.

Like I need to be wildly successful in my professional life or change the world somehow so that my life will mean something.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming big or reaching for the stars – and I may, very well, change the world in the future. But I want to focus on a few small improvements that can help me enjoy my life more RIGHT NOW, and maybe serve as the foundation for bigger goals in the future.

BE PRESENT – I regularly fail at giving my undivided attention to the person in front of me. It’s totally unfair and I’m positive I’m missing opportunities to connect on a deeper level with my loved ones. I want to challenge myself to put my phone away and focus on the moment I’m in.

BECOME A SELF-CARE ROCKSTAR – I’ve made some headway in this area, but I haven’t turned the practices into habits yet. I’d really like to be more consistent in taking care of myself because then I’m able to offer my best self to the rest of the world. {If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, right?}

PUT PEN TO PAPER – The written word inspires me. I want to challenge myself to write something every day – a journal entry, a blog post or even a letter to a loved one. I just want to let the words pour out and see where they take me.

GET MY REAR IN MOTION – I want to move my body more and stress less about the number on the scale. Ideally, my weekly workouts will consistently incorporate weights, yoga, running, and dancing around the house with my little person {that totally counts as cardio, right?}

BE ADVENTUROUS – I need to get the hell out of my comfort zone and try something new each week – a new restaurant, a new activity, a different kind of movie, a new workout class, a weekend getaway to a new city – whatever it is, I need to shake things up a bit. Hopefully this will help get me out of the rut I’ve been in!

If I had to choose one word to encompass my goals for the next few months, it would be intention. I want to actively choose what I’m spending my time on because it makes me happy or moves me forward. And I definitely want to stop falling into things simply because I didn’t have a plan.

As a side note – In writing this post, I found myself pretty overwhelmed with the task of goal-setting. I feel so out of touch with myself that it’s hard to articulate any specific goals that I want to pursue.

During the time I spent thinking and researching about goal-setting, I came across something that Marie Forleo said, “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”

Talk about a great reminder for me to get out of my head and TAKE ACTION. All the time spent thinking and researching won’t help if I don’t actually try some things on for size.

Here’s to discovering something amazing about myself!

Image via Flickr

I’ve always been a pretty private person. As I’ve matured and gained some confidence, I’ve become less of the shy introvert of my childhood.

Many people in my life would be surprised to learn that I still consider myself a private person. I will readily talk about myself in the company of others, sometimes to the point of over sharing.

But I’m selective about the things I share.

Many of my innermost thoughts have never been voiced. To anyone. 

I’ve held back because I’m terrified of failure and rejection. I don’t want to be viewed as different, or display my weaknesses to others. I don’t think anyone will relate to my issues. I don’t want to burden others with my problems.

At some point, I have to choose between continuing to let my fears rule my life, or taking a risk that other people will accept me and all my self-percieved flaws.

Since I’ve found myself at a major transition point in my life, I think now is as good a time as any to take that risk.

I have the opportunity to reinvent myself – to shed the layers of my thought process that haven’t been working for me and find what does work for me.

Maybe it’s the benefit {or burden} of maturity, maybe it’s my aging parents and my increased awareness of our mortality -whatever it is, I’m more concerned about living a life that I’m proud of than I’ve ever been.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I’ve spent all my precious time trying to make everyone else happy while neglecting myself. Surely I can find a better balance between the two.

I want to create a life that honors my authentic self. 

I’m so thankful to have found Molly and Stratejoy. Each time I visit the site, I find myself immersed in a culture of positivity, courage and unconditional support.

You wonderful women of the tribe are so brave – many of you working to overcome much larger obstacles than I am – yet you share your struggles freely and help to build each other up.

I am in awe of you. I’m honored to be able to share my journey with you.

I cannot put into words the relief I feel knowing that I’m not the only person to have felt this lost. Seeing that other women have faced these same fears head on and found a way to overcome them gives me hope that I can too.

Recently, I’ve worked my way through Fierce Love, and would highly recommend it to anyone who needs to kick their self-love into gear. I’ve learned amazing things about myself through the weekly challenges and felt so empowered by Molly’s genuine compassion and unfailing encouragement. {I heart you, Molly!}

I’m still struggling to regularly practice self-love because it doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s really hard to overcome 32 years of bad habits and negative self-thinking – but I’m going to do it! I deserve to treat myself better than I’ve been doing pretty much my whole life.

I still don’t know what shape my dreams will take in my life, but that’s ok. I’ve taken a huge step by giving myself permission to discover what makes me thrive. I’m confident the manifestations will come in time.

Image via flickr

INTRODUCING NICOLE:

“I’ve done most things the hard way.”

 

I’m not one of those people who feels like she did everything right.

In fact, I’ve done most things the hard way.

I chose a college based on proximity to my {then} boyfriend, dropped out after the first year {again to be with the aforementioned boyfriend}, accrued unnecessary debt, got married too young {to a different boyfriend} because I was desperate to be grown up, and chose a career based on the intense need to garner my father’s approval.

Clearly sound logic wasn’t in my repertoire.

Looking back on my life, I feel sad. I drifted through without much forethought into what I was doing. I had no plan, no ultimate goal, spent no time soul searching on how to find fulfillment. There was no hint of living with intention.

I now realize that my entire life has been spent either trying to please others {namely my divorced parents}, or reacting to the curveballs we are all thrown in life. While I know I’m not alone in this type of approach to life, I know it, damn well, isn’t the recipe for living a life of passion and authenticity – which is what I crave more than anything!

Since I became a mom, I’ve found my approach to life has altered, but not in a positive direction. When you stay at home with a child on a full-time basis, your life can easily be consumed by said little person. At first it’s the natural response to being a parent, but I believe it can become detrimental to your sanity as the “all little person, all the time” mentality continues.

As I began to feel increasingly unsatisfied with my life, I also had immense guilt for having those feelings. I mean, on the outside my life looked pretty good. Husband, daughter, friends, college degree, health insurance, house, car, disposable income – check mark for each category. How could I possibly be unhappy when I had so many of the things people strive for?

The shame I felt was almost unbearable.

When I finally found the courage to voice these feelings, a wise friend pointed out that I was pinning all my self-esteem and happiness on my role as a mother. While being a parent is very rewarding, everyone needs balance in their lives. Our children cannot be everything to us.

I wasn’t sure I believed that, but gave me a glimmer of hope that I might not be as bad a mother as I feared. Maybe, just maybe, I didn’t need to feel guilty for taking care of myself sometimes. I wish I could say that conversation with my friend was an “ah ha” moment and that everything has fallen into place since then.

But it hasn’t.

At all. 

What did happen is I started to notice things about my behavior or thinking that needed to change. I did things for myself – with less guilt. These, for me, were monumental steps.

Fast forward a couple years, and I’m still wading through what I now know is a quarterlife crisis – at 32 years old. As I’m writing this, I’ve just returned from taking my baby to kindergarten the first time. I cried. I worried. I hoped she was having fun. I contemplated going to peek in her classroom window {because apparently I’m THAT mom}.

Thankfully common sense won out, and I didn’t stalk her at school.

Today marked the end of an era in my life. My little person is growing up, and I’m nearly overcome with the realization that our time together these last five years has ended. But I’m also excited for the prospect of having time to reflect, to be introspective, and to unearth the best version of myself.

This is my chance to write the story of my life – a life filled with the passion and authenticity that I crave.

I know I have the capacity for self-acceptance and fierce self-love {thanks to the Fierce Love course here at Stratejoy!}. I’m committed to doing the work and finding joy and passion in my life.

The icing on the cake {and, man, do I love icing!} is that my journey – my struggles and the courage to overcome them – will set a powerful example for my daughter, both as a woman and a mother.