I have seen too many wounded women.
I have watched them lose the light in their eyes when the shadows overcame them.
I have heard a thousand reasons why they no longer give themselves permission to live truthfully.
I have seen too many wild hearts tamed.
I have witnessed the loss of courage when it’s just too hard to keep being an edgewalker in a world that values conformists.
I’ve recognized the fear as they take tiny brave steps, hoping and praying the direction is right.
“I feel guilty whenever I indulge in my passions. It feels selfish and irresponsible.”
“My husband doesn’t like it when I talk about feminine wisdom, so I keep it to myself.”
“If I write the things that are burning in my heart, it will freak people out. So I remain silent.”
“I used to love wandering in the woods, but I never have time for it anymore.”
“I just want to have a real conversation for a change. I want to feel safe to speak my heart.”
“My job makes me feel dead inside, but I don’t know what else I can do.”
“People expect me to be strong and hide my feelings now that I’m in leadership. I feel like I have too much bottled up inside that I can’t share with anyone.”
“Sometimes I think there must be something wrong with me. I just don’t fit in.”
“There is so much longing in the world. I get lost in that longing and don’t know how to sit with it.”
“I wanted to be a painter, but I needed a real career. I haven’t painted in years.”
“People think I’m strange when I share my ideas, so I’ve learned to keep them to myself.”
“I can’t go to church anymore. I don’t feel understood there. But I haven’t found another place where I can find community, so I often feel lonely.”
“There’s a restless energy inside me that wants to be free. I long to be free.”
So much woundedness has been laid tenderly on the ground at my feet.
So many women want their stories validated. Their fears held gently. Their tiny bits of courage honoured.
I hear them whisper “please hear me” through clenched teeth.
I see the tears threaten to overflow out of stoic eyes.
I recognize the longing.
I know the brokenness.
I feel the ache of silenced dreams.
They come to me because they know I have been broken too.
They trust me with their whispers because I am acquainted with fear.
They look to me for courage and understanding because they witness my own long and painful journey back to my wild heart.
I see you.
I know you.
I honour you.
I love you.
You are beautiful.
You are courageous.
You are okay.
You can be wild again.
You can trust your heart. She will not lie to you.
You can live more fully in your body. She will welcome you back.
You can go home to that part of you that feels like it’s been lost.
You can find a circle of people who will understand you.
You can step back into courage.
You have permission to be an edgewalker.
You have permission to speak the things that you’re longing to say.
You have permission to be truly yourself.
You have permission to step away from your responsibilities for awhile.
You have permission to wander in the woods.
You also have permission to be afraid.
And to wait for the right time.
And to sit quietly while you build up your courage.
You don’t need to do this all alone.
And you don’t need to do it all at once.
You don’t need to shout before you’re ready to whisper.
You don’t need to dance before you’ve tried simply swaying to the music.
You can give your woundedness time to heal.
Take a small step back into your self.
Move a little closer to your wild heart.
Pause and touch the wounded places in you.
Just breathe… slowly and deeply.
And when you’re ready, we can do this together.
If this post resonates, please consider the following:
1. Join me as I host a circle of amazing women at A Day Retreat for Women of Courage in Winnipeg on October 20th. Pay what you can.
2. I’m creating a new online program called Lead with Your Wild Heart (related to the themes in this post) that feels like a coming together of a thousand ideas that have filled my head in recent years. Add your name to my email list (top right) to be the first to hear about it and to receive a discount.
I am a coach who loves to help people make a difference in the world.
Like the gymnastics coach at the Olympics who sits on the sidelines and bursts into wild applause when the gymnast excels sticks her landing, I love nothing more than to watch my clients shine in their giftedness. The world is a better place when we ALL share our gifts.
I’m exploring something new that will allow me to help more people do transformative work.
The challenge that I have is that often the people I most want to work with are people who live at the edges of the financial economy (usually by choice) and do not have a lot of money for the kind of coaching that would help them grow their world-changing work.
Here’s what I want to do… I want to transform my business model to free myself up to offer more gifts, and thereby free other people to offer their gifts as well. That doesn’t mean I will give away all of my services (I still need to make a sustainable income that will feed my family and keep a roof over our heads), but it means that I will accept and give gifts more freely to help more people serve as imaginal cells to transform the world.
Learn more about my new business model and the kinds of people I want to work with.
A lot of us (myself included) use the birth analogy when we’re bringing something new into the world. We talk about our newly formed businesses, freshly written books, or works of art as our “babies”.
I like the analogy, personally, but I think we often forget about some of the details of giving birth. We want to believe that once something is birthed, it’s ready for the world, but the truth is much different from that.
For starters, the birthing process starts nine months before the new being arrives. Yes, it may start out with an exciting encounter, but that moment is followed with months of waiting, preparing, vomiting, crying, worrying, and waiting some more.
Then when the time finally comes for it to be born, we have to go through hours of contractions, pain, more vomiting (or worse), interception if necessary, pushing, and crying. Sadly, sometimes the baby dies on his/her way into the world.
If we’re lucky enough to bring a living baby into the world, the new being that’s placed in our arms is beautiful, but it is far from being ready to walk on his/her own two feet. First there are months of sleepless nights, thousands of diaper changes, and endless floor-pacing. Every bit of our energy is suddenly usurped by this new person who’s been entrusted to our care. Every few hours, we must stop everything we’re doing to make sure the baby is fed. Yes, there are many beautiful moments of pure love and connection, but those come with a price and a whole lot of exhaustion.
Then, when the small person begins to walk, there is the need to be ever vigilant, lest the child swallows poison, bumps an elbow, or wraps a tiny hand around a curling iron. There are visits to the hospital, more sleepless nights, temper tantrums to deal with, and more exhaustion.
With each stage of childhood, the worries and concerns are different, but they never fully go away. We’re dealing with the teen years in our house, and I can assure you that vigilance is still very necessary, as is the need to break up many fights, console many broken hearts, and walk through a lot of unfamiliar territory.
When you’re tempted to get discouraged (as I often am) about a business that doesn’t feel like it’s getting off the ground soon enough, or a book that’s taking far too long to get written, or a new community group that just can’t seem to get its act together, remember to treat it like a baby.
Give it months to gestate and years to grow into the thing it’s meant to be.
Make sure you pause every few hours to give it (and yourself) nourishment.
Remember that rushing the process only results in stunted growth.
Sooth the broken hearts and bumped knees and remember that wounds heal.
In the middle of the hard times, remember that valuable lessons are being learned.
Let it emerge into its own life and don’t let your ego get too attached to the results.
Sit back and enjoy it whenever you can.
Spend lots of time on the floor playing with Lego or reading books.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. – Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You can be mediocre.
You can fail to capture the attention of hoards of admirers.
You can struggle all of your life to create a masterpiece and then leave it, at the end of your life, unfinished.
You might never get your book published.
Your business might never bring in more than $1000 a year.
You might not get that masters degree you always dreamed of getting.
You may not make it to the Olympics.
You might die without a penny to your name.
It doesn’t matter.
All of those measures of “success” are not important. They are the measures that we have arbitrarily attached to our efforts because we feel the need for yardsticks and goalposts.
But what if there are no yardsticks and goalposts? What if life is not a competition? What if the only winner is the person who lived well? What if the journey is the destination?
What if, at the end of your days, the only thing that matters is that you were faithful to your gift and your calling?
What if the only measurement you need to concern yourself with is whether or not you kept walking?
What if the only thing that’s important is that you let the “soft animal of your body love what it loves”?
It’s about love. It’s about the wisdom of the bumblebee as it follows its hunger to the next beautiful flower. It’s about the trust of the wild geese as they follow the migration patterns that call them to their next home.
It’s about the soft animal of your body – the part of you that knows nothing about goal-setting or success, but knows everything about love.
It’s about writing and painting and dancing and laughing and connecting and counting and inventing and problem-solving out of our deep and passionate love for that thing we do. It’s about doing it because we can’t be happy any other way. It’s about trusting the gift to lead us where we need to go. It’s about sharing what we do because we feel compelled and it doesn’t matter what other people think.
The outcome is not your responsibility.
The path is the only goal. One foot in front of the other. Winding, dipping, trusting, falling, surrendering, picking yourself up from the ground and stepping once again.
Your only responsibility is to love what you love. And to be who you are. And to dream what you dream.
Now stop telling yourself you have not succeeded. Are you in love with what you do? Then you have succeeded.
Go ahead and ask the soft animal of your body what it loves.
It’s my birthday. I’m 46. There’s a very good chance I’ve passed the halfway point of my life. I think I may have just stepped over the crest of the proverbial hill.
But you know what? The view from here looks pretty spectacular! I can see lots of hills and valleys still ahead of me. And a lot of aimless afternoons spent wandering in the woods. A lot of late evenings lost in meaningful conversations with great people. A lot of adventures in unexplored places. A lot of good books still to read. A lot of fascinating people still to meet. A lot of failures still to live through. A lot of triumphs to celebrate. A lot of disappointments. A lot of love.
Forty-six feels pretty darn good. Sitting here in the early hours of the morning while my family sleeps, I can tell you one thing for sure – I have never felt more content about who I am and what I’m offering the world than I feel right now. My forty-sixth year was full of a great deal of personal exploration and a fair bit of struggle, but it was all very good, because I feel more confident than ever about what I am called to do.
One of the things I am called to do is to help guide people on the path through chaos to creativity. That’s going to be the the tagline on my new website (that I’d hoped to unveil today, but decided I didn’t want to rush it). I’m excited about it because it feels like clarity and a little more focus.
I know a lot about chaos and a lot about creativity. I have been through both places on the journey many times, and I will visit those places many more times in this spiralling journey of life.
As I step into the next year of my life, I have more and more confidence that I am being called to serve as a guide in this journey. There are many people stuck in chaos who feel lost or frantic or frustrated. Maybe you’re one of them. Maybe you need someone to help you shift your perspective, to begin to see the chaos or brokenness or lostness as a valuable part of the journey. Or to begin to invite creativity into the shadowy places. That’s where I come in.
One of the tools I use to help examine the chaos and invite creativity into the space is the mandala. There are so many things we can learn when we sit down with paper, coloured markers, our intuitions, and our openness.
In honour of my 46th birthday, I’d like to offer 10 people the opportunity to have mandala sessions with me for $46 each. One time sessions are normally $100, so that’s less than half price. If you’re curious about them, read more here. (In case you’re wondering, these sessions are usually done over Skype or the phone, so you can do them from anywhere in the world.)
This is powerful, chaos-shifting work (that’s much bigger than me – I am simply a conduit) and I know that a lot of people will find value in it. One of my most fascinating experiences has been a series of sessions I did with Dr. Kay Vogt, a psychologist who found me through a listserv we’re both on. After a series of sessions and many mandalas, Kay experienced a profound shift in her life. Here’s what she said about the work we did together, “Our work together has been extremely powerful for me. As a professional doing something similar to what you do it takes a lot to impress me. I am very grateful for your mentoring. You have been a coach’s coach for me.”
In case the idea of mandalas scares you a bit, let me assure you of this – you need no artistic talent whatsoever to do this. This is not about making art. It makes no difference what your finished piece looks like. It’s about using a creative tool to explore some of things that your right brain wants to discover that are sometimes buried under left brain logic. It’s simply a tool for deeper self-discovery that goes hand-in-hand with the heart-opening conversation we’ll have.
If this feels like something you’d value, book a session for $46 and let’s go on an exploration together.
Discounted price no longer available. You’re welcome to book one for the usual price of $100.
Note: If you’re curious about the mandala at the top of the page, it’s my birthday mandala. I wanted to do something to represent 46 years of growth (there are 46 tendrils growing from the centre) and 46 years of being who I am (there are 46 words around the edge that represent what I love and value).