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selflove - Kim Petersen

Awakening the Heart Can Do Anything

But it takes a whole lot of courage to get there.

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A rustic wooden heart dangles on a solitary, wrought iron candelabra that my son crafted during a metal workshop lesson some years ago. It’s rough and wore-torn, and it leans slightly to one side but I love it. It stands atop a chest of file-drawers beneath the window in my office; a keepsake from his early teenage years.

I used to live in the Blue Mountains — a rugged stretch of dramatic ranges west of Sydney. It’s one of those places that seeps into your bones and forever ensnares a part of your soul. Much like the moments before dawn when the sun emerges from the sea to leave you standing in a place of awe.

Nature has a way of stripping you bare when you allow its essence to bleed into you. Connecting and grounding to our natural world is important in maintaining inner-balance and peace. They are some of the most precious moments existing throughout our lifetimes; created to nourish your soul and remind us of our humanity, as well as the eternal spirit within.

Have you ever gazed at the stars and completely surrendered yourself to their cryptic twinkles, or stood at a cliff top and succumbed to the glorious scene spreading before you?

It’s deeply humbling and empowering at the same time.

You can literally feel yourself merge with the earth’s spirit which sparks an undeniable connection to something far greater than yourself. It is through contemplating your bond with the universal spirit that will unlock the path to self-awareness and higher states of love.

God frolics among the forest treetops, snow-capped mountains and rugged coastlines. God waits for you to recognize yourself in each moment gifted to you, and every glance you didn’t really see.

I’m not religious. At all. I don’t adhere to any religious deity, and I do not use the word God in the context as such. To me, God is not a supernatural force who judges our earthly indiscretions, but a term to describe source energy — the higher intelligence governing creation and all that is. The source of unconditional love.

Let’s leave the judgement for the lower vibrational beings in our world. Those who are tethered to a set of rules and systems bred from fear and designed to control the masses. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to escape the reality concocted by fear.

Blinders.

We are born shrouded by invisible blinders that conceal the truth of the divine resources available to us. Limitation is everywhere and shown to us at the onset. It’s no wonder that we become so confused and frazzled as we move through life; that our mental health suffers beneath layers of pressure, stress and delusion.

Delusion for inauthenticity, and for the perceived limitations that we allow to determine the choices made from a closed mindset. Choices made from fear — the opposite of the unconditional love we should be aspiring toward.

Often, it is our most hearts desires that are left on the altar of authenticity. We learn to sacrifice deep love or passion because we believe that to follow our truths is too hard, selfish, or unattainable. We think we’re not good enough, smart enough or talented enough.

We believe in those blinders.

The best hippie store ever is in those mountains west of Sydney. The owner travels the world to scour exotic foreign markets in India, South East Asia and South America to gather the most exquisite, rare and usual pieces and trinkets for his store. Which actually resembles some place you might find in an obscure market alleyway in Turkey. At least, that’s what I envision.

His store was one of my most favorite places to visit when I lived in the mountains. That’s where I picked up that old timber heart piece over a decade ago. The bold message etched across its face spoke to me:

Love. The heart can do anything.

It may sound a bit mushy for those who dismiss romantic notions, but opening the heart isn’t just about romantic love. It is about choosing to live from your heart energy through practicing opening, clearing, cleansing, supporting and strengthening the heart space. 

Consider this quote from Rumi:

“A thousand half-loves must be forsaken to take one whole heart home.”

One whole heart home. Some of us are ready to forsake half-loves to take one whole heart home, but what does that mean?

It means courage.

Often, we forget to just sit with the feeling of love and allow its intense hues to fill us up until it overflows from our being. Life throws us so many challenges. We all tend to have a knack for switching off our hearts when it is convenient or when it seems too hard. The blinders close in all around us until we think there isn’t enough love inside of us to go around or turn the impossible, possible.

Closing your heart means stagnation.

It means rejecting your life-force energy, which will serve to wither your soul and narrow the scope of your world. It means settling for discontentment, getting used to feeling unfulfilled and being afraid because it is through our hearts that connects us with others and allows us to feel compassion, empathy, courage and love.

Moreover, it through our hearts that opens the channel toward realizing our connection to our sacredness — the key to transformation, joy and happiness.

Courage is vital to realizing out most fulfilling life. 

It is true that the greatest forms of love we may encounter will be our most difficult to perceive and express — the precious whole hearted love you want to take home and keep forever. 

These forms of rare love arrive to push us into greater states of awareness as they test our inner-strength and faith as our hearts reopen to love to a greater degree.

This is how the heart transforms us — through daring us to accept deeper spheres of love and contemplate new ways of thinking and being. A higher love that propels us into deep reflection, causing a significant a shift within.

It is the cycle of rebirthing your spirit.

The courageous heart is driven toward questioning the blinders to ponder higher-level concepts that will shatter preconceived notions and expectations surrounding love and limitation. 

It is through a brave heart that will move you toward fulfilling your passions, emerging into your truths and facing the challenges as you go deeper and quest longer in the name of love, ease and expansion.

Transformation is a choice.

It starts with you. Allow the energy and wisdom of your heart guide you toward transformation and living a self-focused life paved with moments of creating greater awareness.

It is through love that you will expand your mind to see past the blinders and create new realities in the world. It is through contemplating your connection to the earth and universal spirit that will act as a springboard toward awakening your heart and accepting great love in your life; and ultimately each heart transformation affects us all. 

It is time to trust in yourself that you may feel love, have compassion and find the courage to embrace all of life’s sweetest offerings. 

It is time to awaken your heart.


Relationships and the Power of Standing Your Ground

Something like love and respect.

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According to my ex-boyfriend, 99% of women are ungrateful and I am one of them. Uh-oh. Looks like we might have a woman-hater on the loose. Someone call the United Nations Gender Equality hotline. I’ve flushed out a real-life, undercover misogynist. He’s all yours.

Yep, I have been analyzed, categorized and classified ungrateful by a man I haven’t seen in about twelve years. Although, considering I was up against such a warped conception stating that 99% of women are ungrateful, I never really had a chance at success.

So, what did I do to constitute such a radical characterization?

I no longer possess the desire to engage with him. That’s it in a nutshell.

Twelve years have passed and still, he seeks me out despite the fact that I have since married another man and have unduly expressed my disinterest in him.

Over the years I have had to block him on social media and email, but every now and then I click that unblock button because I have an internal battle about blocking people that have meant something in my life. The act of blocking can feel hostile and contentious toward the blocked. It is not unlike balancing an invisible sword over their heads which in turn affects our own karma. But some people leave us no choice.

Sometimes, people can’t let go of the past.

During a recent unblock phase, it didn’t take him long to figure out he was carrying an “Out of Jail” card. His name blinked with an incoming message on Messenger within a matter of days. How he manages to score this information so fast is beyond me. Some folks have way too much time on their hands.

Speaking of time, it is of the essence. We are all aware that there are only so many days to speak our truth to the people that matter in our lives.

He wasted no time in declaring his truths to me. He thought about me and my children all the time. He couldn’t forget me. Mistakes were made and he’d give anything to ease the discordant feelings still lingering deep inside. Twelve years and he is still trying for a past that will never come again. A filtered past that looks strikingly different through my eyes.

The past has a way of glamorizing the truth. The years roll by and it gets easier to peer through rose-tinted glasses existing to make everything seem beautiful by distorting the real facts. As a woman who has experienced domestic abuse for over a decade at the hands of her first husband, rose-tinted specs and the ability to romanticize the truth does not always work for me.

Truth: Some people show up in our lives to reinforce what we don’t want.

I am not suggesting these people are any less important than the ones that stick around. They are just as significant because it through these interactions and relationships that we are pushed to assert ourselves;to believe in ourselves enough to stand our ground.

Life presents us with options; forks in the road that lead to alternative destinations and different realities.

Thirteen years ago, and divorced, the option for me looked something this:

Would you like another serve of asshole? Or would you prefer to experience real love and respect now?

Naturally, I was opting for the latter. But, before I got to the love and respect part, I had to sit down to one more turbulent meal of asshole. In the form of Mr 99% guy. I found myself on repeat. Almost.

He waltzed into my home and wanted control from the get-go. The earliest sign was when I cooked for him for the first time, presenting a meal that was instantly met with a grimace and a rude remark. My heart dropped. His mother didn’t cook that way. Turned out, his mother did everything better than me. Do I look like your fucking mother?

I should hope not. Especially when wearing black lacy lingerie, strappy stilettos and clutching a bottle of edible body oil. Vanilla flavoured. There are benefits to divorce. You get every other weekend kid-free to swing from the proverbial chandeliers. We swung hard. His mother stayed out of it. Thank goodness.

My friends became his enemies.

Not really. But if I dared smiled when greeting one of my friends, I was accused of deception.

“You haven’t smiled that wide all day!”

“Umm … what the?”

Can you image how he coped with my male friends? He loathed every one of them and didn’t bother to conceal the fact.

My children became his enemies.

Not really. But exerting dominance over children has a way of making narcissists feel empowered. He actually kicked my three-year-old daughter because it bothered him that she wanted to cuddle up with me on the lounge.

Red flag blazing.

I became his enemy.

Not really. But I stood up for myself and my children with a fire I could not deny. A fire kindled from years of living on my nerves with an abusive husband and a promise I had made to myself — No longer would I accept ill-treatment from a man.

With each and every one of his attempts to coerce me into submission, I responded with a strength I never knew I had. Even when he physically hurt me in the most sadistic ways.

His pain was inflicted with malicious intent. Whereas, my ex-husband was an outright hothead. This guy did stuff to offend my delicate parts; like pinching my nipples till they bruised or tearing my anus so that I bled for a week. He would strike when I’d least expect it — during a hug or a play-rumble.

Yeah.

Truth: Some people show up in our lives to remind us of who we don’t want to be.

Playing the victim gets old. So does the stress that comes from continually being on guard. Sometimes, people put us in a position where we have no choice but to stand by our convictions regardless of the outcome. Even if it makes us feel horrible on the inside. These are the moments that shape our lives. The forks in the road where we face a choice to either change it up or continue choosing similar experiences.

We always have a choice. Always.

Life whispered:

Are you done with mistreatment, Kim? Would you like to raise the bar and attract better experiences into your life? Are you ready for love; real love?

Yes please.

He was the catalyst in choosing to break the cycle. The final straw at the end of a long and dark road littered with abuse, tears and heartbreak. Thankfully, the experience was fleeting in the grand scheme of things, lasting about six months. Although, the relationship was profound nonetheless — just in a different context to how he views it through those distorted rose-tinted glasses.

It was through that relationship, I learned how we choose for ourselves is largely based on self-perception — the manner in which we view our own worth; what we’re prepared to settle for and what we will fight for.

I fought for respect.

I chose to be alone rather than face another long-term bout of pain and dysfunction. I chose myself and I chose my children. If that makes me ungrateful, then so be it because I’d choose it again in a heartbeat.

Sometimes, it makes sense to remove the rose-tinted glasses and see the past for what it is. If we can’t do that, the lessons go unlearned and we might find ourselves on repeat while faintly hearing life whisper truths through our soul. Something like respect. Something like real love.


Also published on P.S. I Love You on Medium

Changing Life Chapters – it’s Easy to Resist Change.

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“Love is friendship set on fire.”

~ Jeremy Taylor

What lights you up inside?

Have you ever looked back and imagined your entire life as chapters of a book? And that each chapter began with an inciting incident that eventually led to a critical point that became that one moment when you stood at a crossroads? You remember that one – the time when you knew your decision would determine the way your life would unfold over the months and years to follow.

Of course, we experience more than one of those pivotal moments during a lifetime. It’s how it’s meant to be; how we grow and evolve as individuals and as a species. Besides, life would fast become mundane if we were not periodically presented with new possibilities. It’s as if the universe peels back to reveal a crack every now and then – a sliver wide enough to illuminate a path brimming with alternative prospects of a different life.

Our bellies may flutter as we peek through the doors of a mysterious future. We might slide on our dark shades to peer into the uncharted hours of a life spreading before us like the light of the moon trailing across the ocean’s surface. Thinking … pondering … mulling over the would-be path while we analyse and sift through the possibilities until we decide whether to embrace something different or stay put and play it safe.

Sometimes, it might be a work opportunity or a crazy idea that entails a certain amount of risk. Other times, it might be more personal life choices like love and relationships where the stakes are raised high enough to warrant a vault pole if we decide to take a leap of faith. Whatever the moment is, one thing you can count on is that it will usually show up when you least expect it.

It’s easy to resist change. After all, the future is unpredictable and uncertain. No one can really foretell what the future holds; freewill takes care of that. Gifted psychics and mediums can only take you so far. Their visions are always confined by a higher order. In other words, those intelligent beings existing in the higher realms looking out for you will only allow you to uncover so much about the future. The rest is left solely to your own discovery in order to strengthen your personal growth and life lessons.

Makes sense. If we knew without a doubt the events yet to unfold, how would we really be able to relish those moments as we experience them? We wouldn’t, and that’s the beautiful mystery of life – to be present and participate fully; to feel and resonate with our emotions as our paths wind through rocky waters and soar at wonderous heights, and to anchor ourselves in the present while keeping a firm vision of our ambitions and desires in our mind’s eye.

And this is why the present is all-powerful, because the present is all we have to ground our feet in deep and practice assuming that our desires are fulfilled before we leap into the future. Does this not excite you as it does me? That your dreams and aspirations, desires and hunger to create are as real as you want them to be; as real as the power you decide to extend to them. The energy will always go where it is directed so direct it wisely.

I love the way Neville Goddard expresses this notion in his book The Power of Awareness when he states, “All transformation begins with an intense burning desire to be transformed. You must want to be different before you can begin to change yourself. Then you must make your future dream a present fact. You do this by assuming the feeling of your wish fulfilled.”

We can’t stop change from happening. Even when we think nothing is changing, it always is. The invisible wheels are always shifting in the background of our lives. We change even when we don’t want to change – physically and emotionally, our circumstances, environment and relationships. So, if our lives are always changing, why not embrace the all-powerful present to manipulate your future into your most burning desires?

If we’re being honest here, it is through our relationships that offer us the most value on the everchanging wheel-deal. This is where things can get tricky when thinking about our future, but without those rich and transformative experiences relationships provide, we cannot reach our full emotional potential as evolving human beings.

We are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends and lovers. We wear many hats for many different people. Each relationship has its own authentic current pertaining to the two individuals involved; each provides layers and experiences that enrich our lives in some way, even when we are confronted by conflict within those connections. Yet, of all the relationships we experience, it is through the ones we connect with at the heart that really shape and cultivate our lives – the ones that burn like an exquisite flame to light us up on the inside.

Have you ever felt your breath thin and your heart explode when confronted by that special someone? Or told someone that they were the best part of your day and meant every word?

Love. Messy, scary, exciting, beautiful love. Everyone experiences it differently, and each time it happens, it is never the same as the time before. Anyone that has experienced it knows it is the best feeling ever. Love is like a rainbow; even when it’s not returned, it is still filled with glorious colors that shade your heart with beauty. Love is never wrong. Never. But the thing about love is that it is subjective and intangible, and it’s different for us all.

It can grow and flourish, making us feel smitten, crazy happy and utterly delirious with all things wonderful. And sometimes, it can take a turn and produce the opposite effects – it can sour and hinder your happiness, clip your wings and make you sad. Sometimes, love just runs its course for the length it takes for that relationship to reach its full potential. This is when the two in question become passive within the connection; when they no longer challenge and fuel one another at the deep levels required in order to continue evolving and learning from the union.

I know this situation well. We probably all have at some point or another. Remember earlier when I mentioned imagining the everchanging sections of our lives like chapters of a book? Here’s the super-short version of one long chapter in my life, and it all started with a guy…

Love was the inciting incident. I fell in love with a guy I had known during my childhood years. He reappeared into my life like a lovely blonde vision with a cute smile and a gentle demeanor, and every part of me succumbed to his blue-eyed, boyish charm. Yep, I totally melted while my heart sang and other parts went wildly crazy. It wasn’t long before he took me to the beach, produced a diamond and asked for my hand in marriage. Truth be told, it scared the bejesus out of me. I was 21 years old with plans to travel and see the world before thinking about marriage. But he was so damned vulnerable and sincere in that moment that I couldn’t bear the thought of turning him down.

My bad.

The usual entailed; we set out to make a life together. We moved around a bit until eventually buying a house, cars and furniture; a cat came along … then children. Travel emerged too. We cruised the south Pacific, visiting cool places like Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia. We flew to New Zealand to spend time with his Kiwi family, and he bought me stuff – lots of stuff. I was buried beneath so much stuff, I didn’t know what to do with it.

Hmm.

Progressive complications are … well … complicated. Not all things are what they appear to be. Come to think of it, most things aren’t what they appear to be. On the outside we appeared to be the perfect family. Lots of stuff and travel makes for a convincing veil. Yet there is truth to that old saying about what happens behind closed doors. You know those kinds of people that don’t possess the ability to recognize their own toxic behavior and the effects it has on others? They are the worst kinds of bullies because you cannot reason with them no matter how much you try.

I tried hard.

For many years I over-stayed my welcome in a marriage with thoughts of making it work. I was really kidding myself, but we’re all pretty good at that, right? The idea of change was terrifying. There was our jointly owned home to consider, combined assets and finances, and of course, the cat and the children.

Life happens…

The months turned into years and more years, and I knew in my core that that relationship could no longer serve me in the ways I yearned to be served. The connection had faltered, waned and had become a shadow of the beginning. I longed to be able to connect at a meaningful level; needed to relate and expand in ways that he was unable to reach – through soul, spirit, intellect. Which naturally spills over into producing the ultimate bedroom experiences, by the way.

Sigh.

We all do the best with what we have and what we are capable of in the moment. It took me a while to realize that he wasn’t capable of taking a hard look at himself and readjusting accordingly at that time in his life. But these were my lessons too, and I strongly believe that we never get more than what we can take.

I took a lot, and lots of stuff doesn’t come close to filling the void within.

This really was nobody’s fault. He was physically and emotionally abusive, controlling, and extremely difficult to live with. Yet, that was his hang up; his own demons that would become his undoing. In the early years before we had children, there were times when he would lock me in our apartment before he’d go to work his night shift. He would lock me in there with no way out, only to return home and demand to inspect my nether region.

Was it fresh, plump and pink this day? Or had it taken a serving?

God forbid had I decided to serve myself while the cat was away. Have you ever been subjected to that line of questioning as someone has their nose buried between your legs with a microscope in hand?

“Uh-hum, it appears you are somewhat swollen.” Dark frown raises with suspicion. “Who’s been here?”

“Huh? Are you out of your mind?”

Yeah, someone was losing it and I’m certain it was me. He actually didn’t have a microscope, but considering the amount of effort he put into these inspections, he may as well have. Besides feeling utterly violated at such a derogatory treatment, I had no idea how he thought another man could get in. Too bad if the building caught fire too. I would’ve been toast.

The Crisis eventually arrived in the form of suffocation. Over the years our relationship had disintegrated to the point of disparity and existed for the sake of familiarity, the vows we had taken and the children we had created. Discordance dominated the connection; the pages in our book were verging on an entirely different series. Emptiness replaced the meaningful exchanges and delicious intimacy we had once thrived on – and yes, that was there in the beginning. But intimacy and connecting had become something of the past and I needed more for myself, and yet, I buried that internal need to grow for the longest of times.

The universe offered a crack. I had a choice.

If I continued to play it safe, I would be better off financially and the children would not have to endure the reality of a broken home. Stay and I wouldn’t have to endure hardship or raise three children alone; stay and I would remain miserable and oppressed, and in doing so, I would inevitably deny myself of my own truth.

Climaxes are not always earth-shatteringly exquisite, but they always bring change. I’m not certain what finally broke the final piece of resistance, but suddenly, something clicked inside of me – I couldn’t deny what I needed and craved in order to nourish my soul. It was then that I began the change by anchoring myself in the present and daring to see my life differently; a life that he had spent years trying to convince me that I was too weak to create.

 So, one day when he was condemning and criticizing me, I looked him in the eye and told him that he could try as hard as he liked but he would NEVER break me. Then I did it – I made the first moves to make a change that I had thought was nearly impossible.

He wasn’t an easy man to escape. Those who thrive on controlling women never are. He even threw things at me as I held my terrified two-year-old and stuffed my belongings in boxes as I prepared to shift myself and my children out of there.

Resolutions are like a breath of fresh air asthe new normal settles in your bones. I had resisted change because I was afraid of the unknown, but it was when I peeked through the crack the universe had provided for long enough that I believed that I was able to place my faith in an uncharted future. It was either that or continue on the same path that wasn’t lighting me up on the inside. And that is what it comes down to – knowing when to embrace the mysteries of an unmapped future and when to play it safe.

The future is there regardless. Playing it safe and hiding from exciting opportunities or unbridled passion, or just a change for the better might be terrifying, but it won’t enrich your life in the same ways that owning your truth will. We are here to carve our notch on the surface of time. If we don’t write our chapters with our authentic selves, then we cheat ourselves more than anyone.

It’s like being faced with a field of blooming daisies and the universe cracks open to present you a rare wildflower. Picking the wildflower could be risky and exhilarating, but it could mean the beginning of the next chapter in your life if you are but game and brave enough to pluck the stem from the universe and step into the uncharted future.

The Girl Can Shine

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“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield

I used to be afraid of so many things. When I was a child, I was scared of growing up and facing a life without my parents. I was afraid of the Easter Bunny and the milkman, and the thought of death had my head spinning in a thousand directions. Most of all, I was afraid of being myself. I never knew who I really was beneath the fleshy exterior and the questionable outfits my mother dressed me in. I was super self-conscious, and I couldn’t quite figure out my place in the world. The only place I felt comfortable was in the inner sanctuary of my mind.

Insecurity is a strange thing to ponder. Where does it spring from? How does it cultivate and flourish even under pleasant living conditions? My early childhood home was a safe and loving environment. Both of my parents are wonderful people, and my mother worked on strengthening my self-perception. Yet, no matter what she did or said, there was a constant underlying feeling of inadequacy shadowing my every waking moment. I felt awkward and self-conscious almost all the time – to the point that I was crippled on the inside. I had allowed those self-deprecating emotions to squander many opportunities throughout my early adulthood, which played a massive role in accepting the mistreatment of others.

I was around seven years old when my parents took me and my little brother one weekend to visit family friends who lived in Sydney’s north shores. If you’re familiar with Sydney, you’ll know those beautiful northern beaches and suburbs are populated with the spectacular homes reserved for the wealthy and famous. As it happened, one of my mother’s girlfriends had recently married a lovely man with ready-made kids, a seriously humongous mansion on the north shore, and a rather well-oiled, erratic mental disorder – and we, the nuclear family from the southern burbs, were lugging up for a weekend to experience how the other half lived.

I must be honest here, I was pumped. I mean, the moment I laid eyes on that outrageously big home, my breath caught somewhere in my lungs and my heart thundered in wonder. I know when you’re that age everything seems bigger than what it really is, but I can tell you that that home was set back among lofty trees and overlooked a lush valley leading to the water, and it was the most beautiful home I’d ever seen.

The interior of the manor was four levels of wonderment. The plush piled rooms were spacious, the kitchen and bathrooms were shiny and modern, and the Barbie-lookalike girl of the house slept beneath an elaborate weave of lace on the biggest bed I’d ever seen. Well, for a child’s standards anyhow.

She looked like a character straight out of one of my Golden Books, and even had a romantic name – Krystal – and I swear, when she clasped her delicate fingers around mine and rushed me toward her bedroom, I froze at the threshold and blinked – had I suddenly been pulled through a rabbit hole and emerged between the pages of a Golden Book?

As I gazed around the candy-colored room brimming with the latest gadgets, a huge doll house and all the toys under the rainbow, I decided I had. I wasn’t aware that other little girls slept beneath draping sheer fabric other than in the movies and my books. I had to be in a fairy tale – there was no other explanation.

Considering that up until that moment I had shared a rather small room with my little brother, you can understand how that possibility was a viable option for me.

After I managed to pull myself from the initial reaction to Krystal’s room, I allowed her to entice me further into her lair. She was excited to show me all her wonderful things, and I was eager to see them. Yet as she moved around the vast pink room with her chest puffed, her golden hair flowing down her back and her baby blues peering from a china-doll face, something else began to happen – me.

This stunning little creature with cherry-colored rosettes for lips and the glossiest blonde hair I’d seen outside of my Barbie doll collection had me enthralled. The thick carpet beneath my feet seemed to suck me further into its twisted pile and my entire body shifted into something extremely awkward as it dawned on me that this was a fairy tale and she was a real-life princess.

So, what did that make me?

Erm. Well, I’m going with the ugly duckling analogy here because that’s exactly how I felt. Better that than the wicked stepmother.

This lovely princess was confident and pretty, and she didn’t seem to second guess herself. She didn’t have to as this was a girl who appeared to have it all. She glided around the carpet like a swan skimming the calm blue ocean, gracefully flicking her hair when she laughed. And she laughed a lot. Turned out, she was a killer on the dance floor too – I know this because our parents took us out for dinner to a club that had a dance competition on the Saturday night and forced us kids to get on stage and boogie.

She won, by the way. Surprise, surprise.

The point is that this china-doll was everything I was not. She was perfect. I spent most of the weekend shrinking on the inside while my insecurities burned like a wildfire. If I could tell my younger self anything, I would remind her to love herself just a bit more than what she did, and I would tell her not to be afraid to shine. Because, at the end the day, that’s what insecurities boil down to – lack of self-love and self-belief.

I keep banners around my house. These are wonderful wise snippets shared from the likes of the Dalai Lama, native American beliefs and other ancient spiritual teachings. They’re everywhere. They’re in the kitchen, my office, the loo, my bedroom … I even have one hanging in my closet. I am someone that needs to constantly remind myself of the bigger picture, as I can become overwhelmed with life at times, and I know how easy it can be to slip back into old thinking patterns – those childhood feelings of inadequacy are never really that far below the surface.

One of my favorites is from Nelson Mandela when he talks about fear. Part of the quote is as follows:

“It is our light not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are we not to be?”        

I love these words, and I realize now that playing small doesn’t serve the world, and that shrinking into the darkness and dimming my light doesn’t benefit me and won’t enrich my life. I won’t grow and flourish by continuing to doubt myself and think small.

I have come a long way since that little “ugly duckling” plagued with insecurities, and it didn’t come easy to reach the point where I am now. I had to deliberately set out to adjust my inner-perspectives and practice a bucket load of intentional change in my thought patterns, but over the years I’ve been able to tame the self-doubts and insecurities to something manageable.

Do I always get it right? Nope. But each time I feel that wobble, the one that says, “Who do you think you are to be doing what you’re doing?”, I take a few breaths and remind myself that a life lived in fear is a life half lived, and then I keep going, pushing myself to take the chances; putting myself out there in ways I could never have imagined, telling people how I really feel and baring my soul to the world. I do this because I am here to experience, expand, evolve and love like crazy. Why hold back when time is not on your side?

We are born on the leading edge of creation. We are born to shine. No matter how deep I must dig to find the courage to keep reaching for more, I’ll do it, because I am no longer that “ugly duckling” shrinking with insecurities and succumbing to the fear; I am the swan skimming over the surface of the calm, blue ocean.

So, the next time you feel that fear-wobble circling down your spine and threatening to overcome you, remember that everything you want is on the other side of fear, and consider these words from Nelson Mandela: “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

You too are a magnificent swan – and the ocean is your playground. Play with me.