On Authenticity, Rejection and Rising from Within

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RejectTwo months shy of a milestone birthday, it’s also exactly seven months since I launched my new book into the Universe, a collection of personal insights and inspiration on living and leading an authentic, purpose-driven and heart-aligned life. Embracing the theme of ‘if not now, then when’, I went into the new year full steam ahead (thank you, Jesse Stoner!), putting forth my vision into the world and fully opening my heart to new experiences, people, opportunities, and relationships along the way.

Thanks in part to the steadfast support of those who believe in my work, I took risks, challenged norms and stepped up, risking an ever-increasing degree of vulnerability in the process. I even stepped back when I felt timing and circumstances called for it, without reservation or apology. I was authentic, empowered, and determined, despite the inevitable fears that cropped up along the way.

But things didn’t exactly go as planned….

They never do.

Within 48 hours of celebrating the launch of my book, I experienced a painful heart-rejection. Not for something I had done, but more fundamentally because of who I am. It was real, raw, and caused me to retreat for a time, pulling back on putting my work out into the Universe in a bigger way. As I have done far too many times in the past, I gave my personal magic and power away, allowing another’s experience of me to invalidate my sense of self. In the wake of that heartache, the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’ set in and I questioned my ability to walk in the integrity of my own message.

Over the course of the seven months since, I experienced more of the same, both professionally and personally, and in ways and for reasons I could never have imagined (though admittedly all sandwiched between layers of goodness and meaningful opportunity that I also could not have foreseen, but which has nonetheless made all of the difference).

It was rejection at its finest and in all of its glory.

 

19989261_10155489001209655_926008012703530663_n-2To make matters worse, just as I was starting to regain my personal mojo, I went down on a high-velocity twirl while salsa dancing in Mexico during a pre-birthday celebration with my favorite group of gal pals. With no tequila in my system to dull the physical pain or news that followed, I learned that I completely shattered my left wrist and was told that if I did not have surgery or if my body rejected the hardware (one rejection I’m thankful I did not experience!), I would permanently lose all functionality of my left hand. For someone who writes for part of my living and personal pleasure, it was one of the most sobering moments of my life. One plate, ten pins, and $9k out-of-pocket later, I was forced to embrace the reality that it would be months of physical therapy before I could write again, potentially losing the expressed interest from the powers-that-be in the world of publishing and book sales. But I digress… 

However flawed my thinking, I will be the first to tell you that when you build a platform (and life) on authenticity and heart-aligned living and the very essence of who you are is met with outright rejection, it stings. Big time. But pain can be a great teacher if we’ll open ourselves up to the lessons.

Beyond the pain itself, rejection challenges you to not only become more situationally aware, but to self-reflect and take an honest accounting of where there might be misalignment of core values and/or blind spots. For women in particular, the sting of rejection can also invite deeper reflection on why we are often far too quick and willing to give our power and sense of self-worth away to others. It’s also an important reminder that someone else’s experience of us is a reflection of their own lens, values, and experience in the world and does not mean we’re fundamentally flawed or that we should stop showing up as we authentically are.

The truth is that just as none of us are perfect, we each have unique gifts and talents that have a place in the world if we’ll allow ourselves to embrace and fully own them, imperfections and all. While we may indeed be a poor fit for a particular person or opportunity, it does not need to become our undoing. Rather, it’s perhaps an invitation from the Universe to step up in a bigger way than before instead of shrinking into the smallness of our (or others’) fear and insecurity.

The year is still unfolding, but as I pause to reflect on the lessons of the season, I am grateful. Grateful for misaligned moments that have given me greater insight into who I am, what matters to me most, and all that I have to offer. Grateful for the inevitable strength that emerges when we stumble, fail, and/or fall short of the mark, yet commit to getting back up instead of staying stuck in our story. Grateful for the gift of time and perspective that remind me of all that life holds in store for each of us, if we’re willing to courageously walk with an open heart and stay open to her teachings.

I’m curious to know and ask…

How has rejection shaped who you fundamentally are? What role can adversity play in teaching you more about yourself and how you choose to show up in the world? How might rejection, when approached from a place of curiosity, enable you to grow stronger and wiser in the process? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The High Price of Fear

When we are stuck in reaction, we cannot thoughtfully act. When we are stuck in fear, we cannot love. When we are stuck in pain, we cannot forgive. When we are stuck in a mindset of righteous indig…

Source: The High Price of Fear

Shedding Skin

Sometimes we have to shed our old skin.

Because it is outworn.

Because it no longer fits.

Because we need to keep growing.

Only we resist it…

We resist it because for a while, the process of shedding the old will require us to feel naked and vulnerable (and none of us like to feel that way for long).

We resist it because the known, however outworn, outdated or ill-fitting it may be, breeds a certain comfort of familiarity.

We resist it because shedding our old skin requires immense Faith in that which is still unseen and unknown.

Growth and change, by anybody’s standards, are hard.

Testing.

Trying.

Painful.

Scary.

Hard.

But necessary…

Necessary, when we find our inner lives out of alignment with our outer actions.

Necessary, when though we may not fully be able to define it, we intuitively know our true gifts and talents can better serve others elsewhere.

Necessary, if we are to make room for the new in order to reach the places we are trying to go.

Not someplace ‘out there’.

But the place within….

Our heart place.

Our heart space.

I’m curious… 

Have you ever found yourself needing to shed your old ‘skin’ to make room for something new?  Did you fight the process, or surrender to the unknown?  Have you ever stayed too long in an old ‘skin’ because it was safe and familiar, even if painful?  What risks have you taken to live from your heart space?

Courage

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I’m curious…

What does courage look like to you?

The Space In Between

In the weeks leading up to the recent launch of a personal initiative I’ve spent years preparing for and months developing, I found myself standing in that awkward space in between.  You know the one. It’s the no man’s land between advancement and retreat; between pushing forward and playing to win, or playing it safe, if only to assuage our fears of losing.  An internal battle between heart and ego; between being liberated and stuck; I seesawed between moments of hope, encouragement and possibility, and moments of fear that most surely would rather see me wither, withdraw and fail.

Photo courtesy of Oklanica via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Oklanica via Flickr

In a moment of honest reflection, I find this battle ironic, relevant and remarkable.  Ironic, because this new initiative, the Global Girls Project, is centrally about women’s empowerment and encouraging others to live and lead their own voice out loud; Relevant, because in order to inspire women to share their story of empowerment and advice they might pass on to others, I’ve had to own my own journey along the way, imperfections, struggles, learnings and all.

As I continue to step closer to my dreams, I also find this moment remarkable.  Remarkable, because quite frankly, when I started this personal blogging adventure called Heart Path almost 4 years ago, I never imagined that my own story and journey would lead and connect me with so many wonderful others whose collective wisdom and insights have helped shaped my own.

And so it goes.

We advance.  We retreat.  We learn.  We stumble.  We fall.  We grow.

And in that space in between; in that space of uncertainty that threatens to become our undoing; we allow faith to replace our fear, a spirit of service to replace our ‘self’, and we begin to pay it forward for others.

Whether you’ve been following from the start or just happened to drop by, thank you for sharing this journey.

Note:  The Global Girls Project, a collaborative multimedia writing initiative, is in the early stages of development.  To catch a first glimpse and learn what the project is all about, I encourage you to visit the website at www.globalgirlsproject.org.   

 

The Courage to Try

There’s no such thing as try. Simply do.

Don’t tell me about how hard you tried. Show me what you’ve done!

We’ve all heard these mantras and understand the point.  People are measured and rewarded by results more than effort; by outcome more than initiative.

But for many, the initiative to even try gets buried under layers of fear.

Fear of failure.

Fear of disapproval.

Fear of rejection.

For many, there is a deep and often unnavigable chasm between ideas and action — a powerful force of resistance that disables, rather than enables, threatening to drown out our voice, our dreams and our productivity.

To ‘try’ is to believe in what’s possible…what can be versus what is.  It’s believing enough in oneself to risk an uncertain outcome, while opening ourselves to growth in the process.  On the continuum of personal empowerment, trying is a critical first step before one can actually achieve.

Yesterday I heard Sara Blakely, founder of SPANX, speak at the Forbes 2013 Most Powerful Women Summit.  The youngest self-made female billionaire in history, Sara launched her undergarment business with only $5,000 in savings.  But what she lacked in money, she made up for in spirit — a powerful vision, personal resiliency and the courage to try.

Growing up, Sara’s father would ask her, “So what did you fail at today?”  Perhaps unconventional to some (though effective nonetheless), Sara was not chastised for failing to achieve a particular outcome, but failing to try; for failing to stretch and step out of her comfort zone and into her growth.

When asked what advice she has for other women, Sara replied, “Be willing to fail big. Failure is not the outcome; failure is not trying.”

When was the last time your willingness to fail was bigger than your fear of trying?  Do YOU have the courage to try?

Photo courtesy of Apalapala via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Apalapala via Flickr

Women:  If you have a powerful story of empowerment to share, please visit the Global Girls Project.  We’d love to hear from you!

The Gift of the Struggle

As we journey through life, sometimes we have to struggle to uncover the gifts along the way.

Sometimes we must step away from the known, the familiar and the comfortable, before we can finally make our way back home.

Sometimes we must face fear or the temptation to quit, that we might learn to overcome and persevere, and in doing so, develop the courage to live our convictions out loud.

Sometimes we need to be challenged to finally know our value, stretched to learn our limits, and tested to understand our strength.

Sometimes we must climb hills to develop endurance or visit the valley of tears to know true compassion, for how can we offer to others what we have never experienced for ourselves?

Sometimes we must endure the disrespect of others on our own journey towards self-respect, or have our egos shattered and dismantled before we can learn to see the true light of humility in leadership and service to others.

Sometimes we must suffer pain to know healing or deep sorrow to know joy.

Sometimes we must endure the sting of betrayal to know the honor of truth, or suffer the pain of false masks, that we might finally learn to walk in the truth of who we authentically are.

Sometimes we must experience painful loss that we might know gratitude, uncertainty that we might know Faith, and disappointment that we might know hope.

Sometimes, we must simply journey through the dark forest of our lives to reach the clearing on the other side — for in every darkness there is light, in every failure there are learnings, and in every struggle the gift of growth and invitation to journey on.

I’m curious…In what ways have you been tested, challenged or stretched on your own journey called life?  Do you view these challenges as gifts of growth or another burden to bear?  How have your struggles strengthened you, enabling you to become a wiser learner and leader in your own life?  What are the lessons of your own journey?

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