Two years ago, I unshackled myself from being a full-time executive in a career that was not meant for me and being a mom who did it all. In a comedy of errors, the first thing I did when I created that gorgeous void of newfound space to get my life together was fill it, to keep doing it all in a new way. I started a business, a rapidly paced Instagram Live series or three, took on multiple coaching clients, did a host of workshops weekly, and started practicing law again. With an infant and two young children who were homeschooling. During a pandemic. As I cringe in reading this, I also offer myself compassion, because all I knew was my body and mind in constant motion.
The very second I felt the freedom seep in, I pulled out that daydream bucket list in my mind – the one I had created for years sitting behind a desk working for other people. And instead of savoring and taking my time, I proceeded to cram every single thing and experience on that list into a year. Guess what happened? I executed ALL OF IT and then crashed and burned. Borderline catatonic at certain points, it turns out, my children saved me. You see, having a baby (only took me three times to really learn this) and small children that need me in a time of historical trauma, is going to get in the way of going a million miles an hour. And thank God they, and the Universe intervened. It was not comfortable. Oh no. Horrible sleep patterns, constant illness and pediatrician visits, and endless responsibilities at home forced me to reprioritize and cut out anything that was not really serving me. And I do mean everything. I quite literally had to forget about myself for a bit, and not without resentment or resistance. Then one day, after I could not take it – any of it – anymore, I decided to really, really lean in. All in. I cleared my schedule and refused to schedule anything, period. I saw the pattern laid out before me: every time I tried, I had to cancel because a child would get sick, or I would go another night without sleep. I shut down a whole business I had built over the past year because after I cleared my schedule I began to realize something: I really liked not having shit to do. And as I continued to lean in, to surrender, the resistance and the resilience unmasked itself and revealed what it really was: grief. So much grief.
It is humbling really. Embarrassing even. I leaped and propelled myself through thin air and finally came crashing down like Wiley Coyote off the edge of a canyon, for all the world to see. It super sucked at the time, but it was a gift. I know this for sure: be unafraid to try – it will lead you back to yourself no matter what. Do the things on your daydream bucket list. Try them and fail, succeed and then let them go after realizing they are not really what you want, or succeed and hold them tight. Take your time or don’t. And when the universe tells you to slow down, listen to it. Slow down. If you continue at rapid speed, mark my words, it will slow you down, for you. Read that again: If you do not slow down when you are being called to do so, the Universe will slow you down, for you.
The thing is, when we find ourselves going a million miles an hour, it turns out, we are trying to fill a void that can only be filled with stillness, silence, listening, and understanding what we really want and need. If we pay attention to the signals; if we let go when we are called to do so; if we fail and pause; we will find somewhere underneath all the rubble, ourself. We invited these situations in to teach us, and the lesson will keep repeating itself until we learn it.
In 2020, I shed a whole skin. The one I regrew in 2021 was not meant for me either. It was like an ill-fitting suit, complete with pantyhose, which nobody likes, that I had to sit and sweat in, uncomfortably for awhile. I took it for a spin, blistered my heels, chafed my thighs, let the underwires of my bras cut into my boobs, yellowed the pits, burst out of the buttons and let the seam in the ass of my pants blow out from being too tight, until I just could not take the discomfort anymore. And so, I shed it. All of it. And this time, before taking another step forward to plow through the discomfort, before examining other outfits to try on and hope for better results, I held fast and let all the grief I had been avoiding for years flood me, from head to toe. Unabashed tears in any given moment flowed freely and without shame. Words fell out of my mouth announcing my truth at the most inappropriate and unfortunate but necessary times. And when I was finally done releasing all of this pent up pain and energy, instead of adding a new skin or a new outfit, I decided to go free. Be naked in my self-hood.
I accepted the awkwardness, the introversion, the seriousness, and the wittiness, the beauty, the exhaustion, the tears, the emotion, the pain, and the brilliance that was me. I held fast to the stillness necessary to get to know her – to get to know me, anew. As the person I was born as. The person I am and always was. Not the person everyone wanted me to be or the person my ego wanted me to be. Nope. Not her. Me. The person born naked and needy, and desiring to be loved. The person who developed an almost paralyzing fear of abandonment at an incredibly early age, who used that to create a hard shell to protect herself, and to project that nature onto others she perceived as being abandoned or hurt in their innocence. I had to go back to this child and hug her and tell her that the survival mechanism she created long ago was no longer necessary. Tell her she was going to be ok. Tell her that she was loved and this protective layer, this constant motion, this unnecessary power she had wielded for so long over self and others, was the skin she had to shed. It was the skin I had to shed. It was much deeper than the skin shed in 2020 and 2021. This skin was the bottom layer of Velcro that all of my many other skins attached themselves to. It served when it needed to – when this child that was me was forced to be independent at an early age; not because her parents did not try, but because life unfolds how it unfolds. Together, we let that skin go hand in hand. 40-year-old me and 2-year-old her. Then we blended into one and decided to move forward, slowly, cautiously, and bravely, as ourself.
My Instagram handle has evolved from branded partnerships, content creation, beautiful professional portraits, and curated things, to returning to just me, and only hanging onto the few things that really represent me. It sometimes feels a bit embarrassing to be honest, to have gone through such rapid transformation so publicly. A lot of it is gone, but I didn’t erase it. I just archived it. I can go visit it anytime, like an old friend. It taught me so much. There is no resentment. It’s just time to make new space, and let that space breathe.
I hope my journey gives other women permission to fall and get back up again. Permission to go wild when finding freedom for the first time in years – in whatever way that looks like for them. Permission to get it out of your system and let it lead you to rebirth into your true form. I literally presented my best and my worst over the past 2 years, and the things that remained consistent were the love and support from my people, and the space to do whatever the hell it was I felt I needed to do. Both the love and the space are always there. Our choices manage what we do with them. May we let our hearts and breath guide our choices more than our ego. And when our ego guides, may we find the lesson and be better for it.
It feels good to be free. I have shifted my protective nature – it is no longer about protecting myself from abandonment and from feeling shame or projecting that onto others; it is now about gently and firmly protecting my peace and honoring how far I have come. It is about allowing things to be as they are and letting what used to get under my skin roll off my back. It is about witnessing and processing my emotions in real time, and letting them flow through me. My inner child walks with me and trusts me with everything she has, to proceed with integrity and our whole heart. I will not let her down again.
I look back on the journey, not with shame, but with appreciation for how far I have come.