I HATE getting into cold water. Like every ounce of my being screams NO!!!!!! at the mere thought of diving, jumping or, even, wading into cold water.
Just as I’ve become a fair-weather skier, I’m a warm water swimmer….give me above 85 degrees and I am golden! Yes, even on a hot day when I need to cool off.
While I am known for my proclivity towards very warm waters and my high tolerance for heat, my preferred state of being warm has actually become a source of stress and struggle in our family.
My oldest daughter is a lover of water. And she is able to swim in any temperature. She has already swum in 4 degrees Celsius! I mean, how can we even be related?! But most importantly, she wants to share this love of the water with me and will beg and plead for me to join her in any given pool or ocean.
And nine times out of ten, I say “No”, as I watch the disappointment sweep over her face.
I am a firm believer in respecting our own boundaries and communicating them to our loved ones. I have always communicated my boundary with cold water as something physically impossible for me to get over. It feels tortuous to me to go into it. It feels like hell and I would rather do a zillion other things that get wet in cold water. It’s too much of a shock to my system (and I think I have an, as yet unspoken, fear I’ll have a heart attack!) and I just don’t fucking like it! Ok? Can’t that be enough of a reason? So leave me alone about it.
That is basically what I had to tell her, over and over and over again, until she stopped asking…at least for a little while.
But I felt like shit. I wanted to be that mom that went in and enjoyed her time with her child; to play and be goofy and show her that I could be brave and get over my “resistance”. But time and time again, I didn’t make it happen. And as the years went on, I started to feel bad. Respecting my boundaries was, and still is, important. But this felt like something deeper. I needed to shake this up.
So I promised to try harder and be courageous and “just do it”! And here’s what I learned in the process:
My comfort is in the warmth. I am happy, content, cozy and deeply comfortable in the heat. The thought of physically disrupting that comfort is, well, uncomfortable. But why? Am I someone incapable of being with discomfort? Am I not able to push myself into uncomfortable situations? Do I always stay in my comfort zone?
The answer is I am capable of being out of my comfort zone and I have lots of examples to prove that! I fly in airplanes a few times a year (it takes lots of self-coaching to not lose my shit while flying), I left a cushy career to start my own business, I learned a new language at 25 years old while moving to a new country, I am currently on a 1-2 month anti-candida diet/cleanse, and finally, I gave birth with no painkillers (YO, was THAT uncomfortable!).
I can handle discomfort. So what’s up with the cold water?
Last summer, while vacationing in Italy with my extended in-law family, I made a pledge while looking at the beautiful, happy face of my daughter, to be brave and go in the pool. Even after I knew how cold the pool was. Not only had I seen my daughter’s reaction when she jumped in (Miss I Can Swim in Any Temp Water!), but I had also dipped my toe in and, let’s just say, I was terrified.
The anticipation was awful. I would wait for as long as possible, get as hot as humanly possible and only then would I move closer to the water. Sometimes wading works best for me. Sometimes, you just gotta bite the bullet and plunge in head first. That’s my preferred way.
So here’s the beautiful lesson I learned last summer when I dove into the freezing cold pool: it was horribly cold, awful, shocking, uncomfortable, “fucketdy fuck fuck fuck” is probably what I said…but, that only lasted about 5, tops 10, seconds. That’s it.
After that, I was able to swim around, play, relax and enjoy feeling refreshed and cooled off. And, most importantly, I saw the smile on my daughter’s face and felt the pride in my own heart.
All this fuss for 5-10 seconds of discomfort? What had I been so afraid of? Every uncomfortable second was worth it.
I used that piece of information to help me for the rest of our trip. I coached myself through the resistance…reminding myself that discomfort is nothing to be feared but rather to get through it so we can feel the benefits of what else is being offered to us.
I cannot tell you how much this realization and, now, technique has helped me. I like to call it the Cold Water Dunk. It’s a three-step process:
- Give yourself the permission to feel uncomfortable
- Remind yourself that it won’t last too long
- And the bask in the physical exhilaration you feel from the glory of your effort, your courage and your willingness to show up for your life and say “YES, I am going to dive in!”
Since Italy, I have used this technique to help me do FB lives (I coach myself to do them every single time), to help me speak my truth even when I know other’s won’t agree, to take care of my health through an elimination diet, to swim in the cold ocean with my daughter in the Dominican this last March, to name a few.
Discomfort is a wise teacher. And my aversion to the cold water really helped drive this point home for me. It only lasts a few seconds. We can do this. We were made for this.
So next time you doubt yourself or feel the resistance to doing something uncomfortable or revert back to your default ways, think of the Cold Water Dunk and jump in. I can almost guarantee you won’t regret it!
I want an exciting, fulfilling, purpose-led and heart-led life. I always have and I suspect you have too.
It’s why I switched careers at 40 to become a life coach, leaving behind a solid career with a great employer, moving into the unknown with excitement and trepidation and a whole lot of butterflies in my gut. You can read more about my story here.
And it’s why my coaching practice is called Your Novel Life. A name that came to me with such power and clarity about 5 months into my coach training.
A name that holds within it the promise of a new life, while also playing around with the notion that we are the authors of our own lives.
Yes, the authors. We create the stories of our lives. We get to “write” out the plot twists and details and how we want our stories to unfold and, perhaps, even end.
Yes, we are that powerful.
And no, I am not delusional. I am well aware that we cannot control the circumstances of our lives, but we can control how we react to them…AND THIS IS EVERYTHING!!!! (Yes, I am screaming this last bit because it is SO IMPORTANT!)
This powerful revelation happened for me during coach training and completely opened me up to a life that was all of a sudden new and different from what’s been known before.
That is what coaching does to someone. It opens them up to new ways of thinking, being, and living in the world. Your relationships change, your self-perception changes, the vision for your life changes.
You become the master of your domain (Seinfeld fans anyone?) and you recognize how much power you have over your life when you understand that you have the ability to choose how to live.
Your life is not anyone else’s responsibility but your own and that is just mind-blowing when you really think about it! And a little scary too. But mostly unbelievably freeing and empowering! And this is what I want to share with you, my kids, my husband, my friends, my family, and basically anyone who will listen. LOL!
Hence, Your NOVEL Life; a life that is new and different from what’s been known before.
When this name for my business hit me, I could not turn away from it. It came to me, literally, as a knowing deep in my soul. A name that was not so much chosen by me as given to me. And I was (and continue to be) asked to use it to relay this message:
You (me, all of us) are here to create and live your own authentic story.
Your Novel Life and the work I do in the world is my invitation to wake up to the central and powerful role we each play in our own lives.
It’s about taking charge of your life, and living it with curiosity, purpose, joy, love and compassion.
It’s a life that is grounded in the ordinary hum-drum of daily life, while inviting you to be fully open to finding and experiencing the extraordinary within that.
It’s a life that is in constant evolution…filled with learning, growing and changing into who we are meant to be in any given moment.
It’s a life where you know yourself deeply and well enough so you can move through it with lightness, freedom and confidence (at least most of the time because we are human after all).
It’s a life that is at once messy and wonderful. It doesn’t offer perfection, but rather encourages you to be as real as possible. It’s about putting both feet in and taking a leap of faith over and over and over again.
It’s about trusting in what you cannot see, while learning to trust in what you feel.
It’s a life that is compassionate towards yourself, accepting of your limitations and quirks, and fiercely celebrating the glory of your heart and your efforts and kindness and all that you give and want to be and do in the world.
It’s a life that is fully, 100% yours. Yes, even if you have kids, partners, pets, aging parents, demanding careers, responsibilities up the ass, and have been knocked down by life more than once.
If you’re curious to know what living Your NOVEL Life looks like more concretely, I invite you to visit this page on my website.
You may be wondering how I know this? You may be thinking, what does she know? You may even think that I have led a fairly uneventful and almost perfect life and it’s easy for me to say all of this because I have never faced anything challenging or awful or circumstances that felt life-crushing.
Indeed, I have led an extraordinary life filled with many, many, many blessings. I celebrate them and am grateful for them, nearly every day.
But scattered in between the blessings you’ll find deep and mournful pain that has ripped out my heart more than once, loss, rape, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, bullying, miscarriages, health issues, lots of fears, relationship problems, self-esteem issues….you get the idea.
Here is what I know: we are all complicated, diverse, richly unique individuals that want to be loved, cherished and accepted for who we are. And we deserve to live lives that are the fullest expressions of ourselves, to live out our most authentic stories.
And in order to do that, we start with ourselves….we go back to the basics, to the relationship we have with our own souls.
Your Novel Life and the work I do is an invitation to step into a relationship with yourself that is loving, compassionate, and empowered. Work with me as I teach you how to identify what is keeping you stuck or afraid, lost or overwhelmed, in pain but wanting relief.
Work with me if you are ready for something new and different from what’s been known before. Work with me if you want to know how to handle the messy bits of life while still enjoying the wonderful bits too. Work with me if you want to feel lighter, freer and more confident.
Do I have all the answers to everything? Um, hell no!
Do I know how to listen with deep compassion and non-judgment to someone who is ready to be heard, someone who is ready to tell their story and then shift their story for good? Hell YES!
If you know you are ready to live Your NOVEL Life, I invite you to sign-up for a Complimentary Discovery Call. We’ll be able to discuss your specific coaching needs so I can offer you the best option possible because I want nothing more than for you to create a life you love!
You don’t have to be unhappy to want to be happier.
You don’t have to be exhausted to want to rest more.
You don’t have to hit rock bottom to want to make changes in your life.
You don’t have to accept overwhelm in order to be a good mom.
You don’t have to put your desires on the back burner in order to be a generous and giving person.
You don’t have to make big changes in order to see big changes in your life.
You don’t have to live out all your dreams in order to live a dreamy life.
You don’t have to beat yourself up with tough love in order to motivate yourself.
You don’t have to feel guilty to want time alone.
You don’t have to be fearless in order to fear less and still do scary, hard things.
You don’t have to criticize your body to want to take better care of your body.
You don’t have to stop “doing” to want to slow down.
You don’t have to make drastic changes to want to live differently.
You don’t have to say yes in order to please people.
You don’t have to change who you are in order to be loved.
You don’t have to express anger to want to be heard.
You don’t have to be religious to want a deep, soulful connection with Spirit.
You don’t have to complete your to-do list in order to enjoy your life, here and now.
You don’t have to work hard in order to play hard.
You don’t have to feel “less than” to want to be more.
You don’t have to accept unkindess in order to be kind.
You don’t have to hate yourself in order to hold yourself accountable.
You don’t have to dim your light so other’s can shine theirs.
You don’t have to be someone you’re not to want to be everything to everyone.
You don’t have to pretend everything is fine in order to make others feel comfortable.
You don’t have to limit your own potential in order to fit into someone else’s idea of your life.
But here’s what I believe: you do have to know yourself, accept yourself and love yourself in order to live your most authentic and fulfilling life!
- Know yourself. Know your self. Know what your heart desires and what lights up your soul. Know what your body wants to fuel your precious life energy.
- Accept yourself with deep and loving compassion for the wildly messy, perfectly imperfect human you are.
- Love yourself. Treat yourself with kindness, respect and grace, always.
When you have all these three things, you have everything. You have self-awareness (body, mind and soul), you have compassion for yourself, and you treat yourself with kindness, respect, and love (like you would your own child or dearest friend).
When we love ourselves like this, life becomes easier, happier, and much more fulfilling.
Why? Because we no longer become the punching bag when things don’t work out as planned. We no longer blame ourselves for the “mess” around us. We stop making everyone else’s baggage mean that we are somehow inferior or failures or not good enough. Hell, we stop making our own baggage mean we’ll never be good enough.
Because you are good enough. We all are. Right here, right now. In this very moment. Full stop. Stop doubting it.
When we really take the time to know ourselves and develop enough self-awareness and skills to help us understand what triggers us into becoming screaming, impatient, angry monsters, we’re able to tap into a well of CALM and PERSPECTIVE.
Do not underestimate these two superpowers!
We know how to check in with our most authentic selves to get clear on what the hell just happened and then move forward with actionable tools to either solve or resolve the issue, all from a place of reflective and intentional dialogue. Can you imagine how good this feels and the impact this has on ALL your relationships, including the one with yourself?
When we give ourselves the compassion and space to fuck up and make mistakes, we give ourselves permission to not be perfect. Why? BECAUSE WE ARE HUMAN. What a relief!
And finally, when we really show ourselves LOVE…you know, the kind we so easily bestow upon our loved ones…we become worthy, good enough, and whole.
Our worth no longer depends on someone else’s idea/impression/judgment. Our worth comes from within.
Our value, for simply existing, becomes enough. Our messy, glorious lives become our everything and we become whole within ourselves when we fall in love with ourselves.
So I invite you to pause. Take a moment to consider how you could know, accept and love yourself more…starting today.
Make a decision today to make the investment of time, money or whatever way feels right to you.
- Write out what it would feel like to know yourself deeply and have tools to help you focus and stay on track with what’s most important to you, every single day.
- Explore what it would feel like to treat yourself and all your “flaws” with compassion instead of negative self-talk.
- What would it feel like to show-up for yourself with the kind of love and care you would give a dear friend when she’s going through a challenging time?
And finally, let yourself imagine what it would FEEL like to treat yourself NO MATTER WHAT with kindness, respect, and grace. How would your daily life change, your daily habits, change if you were to say kind things to yourself instead of disrespectful things?
For me, I feel lighter in my gut, happier and more energized in my step, less cranky (than before when I allowed the negative thought to drag me down) and a whole lot kinder and patient with my family too.
When you invest in our own well-being, you actually invest in the well-being of your loved ones!
Now that feels like a win-win!
If you need ideas or support about how to do this, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to explore it together.
I wrote this text in May 2014. I have left it unedited and as raw as it was originally written (save for some aesthetic touches which are important to the eye). It explains my journey to how I came to coaching. Even though it’s only been 3.5 years since I wrote these words, I have grown and changed so much since then. The journey of entrepreneurship and coaching will do that to someone (HA, understatement of the year!). And yet, I still very much see myself, the good ole’ ordinary me. Every last bit of my extraordinarily ordinary self, so open, ready and earnest. I do love her.
All I want is an “ordinary” life…an extraordinarily beautiful, inspiring, joyful, exciting, fun, awesome, meaningful, loving, and happy life. And with this ordinary life of mine, I want to help people live their own extraordinarily “ordinary” lives too.
I believe that life is simple. It is made up of a thousand different moments, day after day after day that then turn into year after year after year. And these moments tend to be the most ordinary things…the sound of your toddler’s feet pitter-pattering down the hallway; sipping your morning coffee; having dinner with friends; going for an ice cream on a hot, summer day; reading the paper; taking a shower; preparing for a trip; getting ready for work; lounging in bed…whatever ordinary looks like in your life.
But here’s the thing, THESE MOMENTS ARE WHAT MAKE OUR LIVES EXTRAORDINARY when your life is your own creation. When you live from a place of authenticity, you are clearer about what makes your life feel extraordinary. YOU get to decide what feels like fun, what tastes delicious, what you need, what you want, how you want to spend your days, hours, minutes. Your life becomes extraordinary because you realize that you have the power, brilliance and capabilities to make your life and soul shine from within.
You see… here’s my truth. I believe that life is magical and we become awakened to this magic when our soul’s mission finally comes into full clarity. I believe the universe really does conspire to help us live our best lives when we take those leaps of faith as we listen to the whispering of our soul’s yearnings and start putting what we truly want from life into action. I believe that life is messy, complicated and wonderful, all at the same time. Life is unfair, it hurts, it SUCKS sometimes, but it is so damn beautiful that it can take our breath away.
And I believe from the depths of my soul that when we choose to create the lives we deeply yearn for, we make the world a better place. When we share our authentic selves, from a place of full vulnerability, courage, fear and love, we ignite the same desire in others and then the world slowly becomes lit-up from within, with people going about their ordinary lives from places of extraordinary brilliance…we’re all just trying to do our thing, our way and be respected and loved and accepted for who we are and what we have to offer.
Step out of your own shadow and into your brilliant light, I say!
My search for authenticity
I would like to say that my quest for authenticity began young, as I am now able to reflect back on my rebellious youth from a compassionate perspective. I tried desperately to be heard, loved and appreciated, but adolescent angst, insecurity and the deep need to “belong” yet “stand apart” certainly muddied my waters for a few years. Some might say that I looked for acceptance in the wrong places, with the wrong people, through the wrong actions. Maybe. Maybe not.
The turning point in my search for authenticity came on an ordinary day as I sat in front of the man I thought I would one day marry after I had asked him how he saw his life five years down the road. (I was always a dreamer and lover of these deep and meaningful questions!)
What were some of his dreams? What did he yearn for in his life?
BUT…he was unable to answer.
HE WAS UNABLE TO ANSWER!
Nothing came out.
Not. One. Dream. Not. One. Idea. Nothing.
He was unable to answer…and my soul whispered, rather loudly, “Ok girl, this is NOT feeling good. I think it may be time to get moving and living and start dreaming about a different kind of a life.” And I did pretty quickly after that. After 6 years together, I moved away to start living my dream and we slowly fell apart a few months later. (Suffice it to say, there were lots of other issues going on here, but this was my incredibly defined and memorable tipping point.)
The next pivotal moment on my journey came while I was traveling around the world on an 8-month backpacking trip with my sister. (BEST TIME EVER, BTW!) I met a man in New Zealand, who I consider my spiritual soul mate, who taught me very simply how to be still and then “follow my heart, be true to myself”. Something clicked inside my soul when I heard this incredibly simple yet deeply profound statement and it propelled me into a new way of being in the world. I have embodied this mantra every since (and I liked it so much that I actually got it tattooed on my leg in Chinese characters while in Thailand during our travels, much to the horror of my poor parents!) And as soon as I started to live this way, my life changed in miraculous ways.
Newly single and loving every minute of it, BAM!, I met the man who would become my husband while traveling in the Greek islands and yes, it was as romantic as you can imagine; moved to Montréal with my man and found a “perfect” Master’s program where I was able to write my Master’s thesis while doing actual academic research on authenticity, needless to say I was in HEAVEN! (The abstract can be found here for those interested: http://philpapers.org/rec/BOSLTG).
And then I continued on my path towards living my full and lovely life, which slowly filled up with a dog, friends, family, work, trips, homes, renovations, children, yada, yada, yada. It wasn’t always pretty or easy or fun, as I had some very hard times in between but it was my lovely little life. Until…another pivotal moment arrived, and then another and another…until I could no longer look away and ignore the whispers of my soul.
Holy Moly!! Did September just knock you out like it did me?
It started off with so much energy! I was PUMPED about launching my new program, getting back into my groove with the kiddos back in school and doing my thing! 😉
But to be totally transparent, by the end of the month I had a sore throat and a cold on the way, the remnants of which are STILL lingering. And I was exhausted! Like deeply, deeply tired.
And this is where things get interesting…
I am working with a business coach (because we all need support, accountability and help to make our dreams come true!) and as part of my work with her I declare my intentions for the week on every Monday. It’s a powerful activity that keeps me focused on my goals and intentions (duh). Anyway, I let her know a few weeks back that I was feeling “like I’m running on fumes and my intention is to rest”.
I felt courageous and proud that I was giving myself permission to REST. Yay me!
Except, here’s the kicker. I didn’t rest. Because you know what I realized?
I’m a Fake Rester. YES, a FAKE RESTER.
I think I know how to rest and I like to convince myself that I allow for rest, but I actually rarely ever really rest. As in deeply rest and do nothing.
Can you relate? Are you able to just sit and do nothing?
Because up until a few weeks ago, resting for me meant:
- laying down while doing a guided meditation
- relaxing in my living room while reading
- baking while listening to a podcast
- sipping a glass of wine while browsing Facebook
- going for a walk (!)
You see, I realized there is a HUGE difference between doing something restful/not feeling “busy” and actually resting.
In fact, turns out I have a lot of old beliefs and judgments about people who rest (as in lay down, close their eyes and take a little snooze in the middle of the day). Even if it’s just for 2 minutes.
Here are some of my default thoughts that come up when my husband says he’s going to lay down for a few minutes and close his eyes (warning, they are not nice):
“Wow, must be nice to feel like you can just lay down… in the MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING DAY!”
“Huh, look at that, he thinks he can just LAY DOWN? Who does he think he is?!”
“So it looks like I’ll be the one to do ____________ (fill in the blank) and all the other shit that needs to get done around here!”
And it goes on and on and on, if I let it. Does this sound familiar? Do you have similar thoughts?
But thanks to the awareness I have about my own thoughts, I am able to catch myself pretty quickly when these snarky judgments pop up. Because I actually truly believe that resting is essential to our well-being.
So why don’t I do it? HA HA HA! Great question.
Well, the thing is I really thought I was resting when I was slowing my pace down, minimizing my distractions and activities and doing things that felt “restful”.
And, there’s more. (Man, it’s hard to be honest!)
When I’m really honest, it’s because I carry around, deep inside my brain, the belief that there is always something to do and that “resting” is for lazy people. Yikes, I said it!
Carrying this limiting belief around let’s me relax just enough so I am still doing something. Because when I am doing, I am being productive, active and engaged. And those are good things to be, right? Who wants to be lazy? Oh, god forbid anyone be perceived as lazy or unproductive!
So where does this leave me? You? Us?
Since this horrifying but enlightening discovery about myself being a Fake Rester (seriously, I was so shocked to learn this about myself, although when I brought my realization to my husband and sister they both gave me the “Well, duh” look! Oops, sometimes our loved ones know us better than we know ourselves!)…I am whole-heartedly embracing the practice of resting.
I am letting myself be a beginner at this too, because we all have to start where we’re at, right?
My morning routine still sees me getting up before everyone else, but instead of jumping into doing my meditation, gratitude practice, and journaling, I now set the timer for at least 5 min and just sit there. Doing nothing. Resting. Nowhere to go, nothing TO DO, except sit and be.
So far, it feels delicious, comforting, and indulgent and very much like I am taking good care of my body, mind and soul. And, HAHAHA, I have more energy. Gee, what a shock! 🙂
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this! How do you rest? Do you allow yourself to rest or are you also a Fake Rester? It’s ok, we can help each other out!
More and more, I feel drawn to living a life built upon PLEASURE. And while doing and being in action is so important to and for our lives (I am a go-getter!), so is stillness, rest, quiet and nourishing ourselves deeply.
It’s the in-between that calls to me…that sweet spot between productivity and pleasure.
My new mantra (discovered with my coach) is My pleasure IS productive.
How freaking juicy is that? It’s worth repeating.
My pleasure IS productive. I invite you to find your pleasure. And rest if you need to.
PS. isn’ it cool to learn more about ourselves? I love this process and discovery. It is endlessly fascinating.