I Found a Sisterhood!
Let me tell you about my weekend in LA! The one where I met like minded people who made me laugh, reflect and even cry tears of understanding, connection and compassion. Where I heard the most beautiful voice of a world-renowned singer and teacher. When I learned tips in self confidence from a model who walked the runways of Paris. Where I enjoyed a gala full of dancing, great food and even greater company. Where I had the chance to share and listen to personal stories. When I had a personal professional photo shoot. And where I formed collaborations with other businesses created by women and for women.
Just where does a girl living in a small town in Ontario, Canada get to do all these amazing things in one weekend?
Well, she gets on a plane, flies to LA and goes to Fiercecon of course!
Fiercecon is explained as ‘not a conference, but a connection”, and it couldn’t be more true! Coordinated by Catherine Grace O'Connel and her team, it is a connection of women in midlife and beyond, where no "mean vibes" are allowed. A safe space where a sisterhood can be created. A sisterhood that boosts confidence, forms friendships, explores ideas, creates collaborations and encourages success. Here are a few beautiful ways that a sisterhood can accomplish these things.
How does she do it?
“I don’t know how she does it, she is so strong”.
Have you ever heard that said? I’ve not only heard it, but I myself have said it about others.
It’s always spoken with a sort of awe that these women are still able to stand, to carry on, to breathe, to have such inner strength. They’ve faced dreadful circumstances, ones that we can’t imagine having to endure ourselves - and if we did, we’re fearful that we would probably die. Maybe they’ve survived some sort of abuse, been diagnosed with an illness, lost of a dear friend or family member, or survived some other sort of tragedy. Yet these are often the women who go on to help others. They become the coaches, the motivational speakers, and the leaders we look up to.
How do they do it?
The pathway to inner strength
As I sit on my deck on this beautiful July morning, I am reminded of how much nature helps me to reconnect with my inner voice and brings such peace to my soul. The stillness of towering trees, the constancy of the flowing river, birds singing their morning songs, and the sun creating ever-changing blue, purple and golden hues as it rises in the sky.
Before my young boys wake up and the stillness of the morning is broken, I think about my own childhood. I try to reconnect with who I was. I think about the dark times in my life and how they shaped me...
I didn't have a healthy amount of self-love...
It all started when I realized I had been making life choices that proved that I didn't have a healthy amount of self-love. I used to think that by doing and becoming the best wife, mother, daughter, housekeeper, worker, etc that I could be, I would be worthy of love. When I didn't get the reactions I had hoped for, I would spiral into self loathing, and try even harder.
...RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
I thought I'd have everything figured out...
When I was young I thought that once I was an adult, I'd have everything figured out. So once I had "grown up" and still questioned myself or my decisions, I thought that something was wrong with me . Now I realize that our life is a journey of growing, learning and constantly figuring things out. I also know that I'm not alone in these feelings. This painting "Labyrinth" portrays the feeling of not knowing which decision is right or wrong. The times when our thoughts swirl, and every decision seems right and every decision seems wrong. What I've learned is that when we are faced with decisions these are opportunities for growth.
We hear a lot about loving ourselves. But to be honest I'm still figuring out exactly what that means, and how to do that. It's easy for me to love you, my readers, to see your beauty. But when it comes to me, I'm still working on ironing out the wrinkles of my own self love journey. I figured I'm probably not the only one, so I've looked for a little help from Motivational Speaker and Success Coach, Lisa Cybaniak, to share her insights with you.
Read Lisa's blog post where she gives us 4 Actionable steps to change our thoughts, our life, and learn self love....
The Meaning of Life - What is the meaning of life? by Lisa Cybaniak
This is the age old question. Perhaps everyone’s meaning is different. Perhaps we all have our own meaning to seek. Or perhaps, just maybe, at the root of everyone’s quest is really how to love themselves.
On the surface, learning how to love yourself seems simple. You just do it, don’t you? Tell me then, when things go wrong in your day, what is your first response? Is it to blame yourself, tell yourself you knew you couldn’t do it anyway, throw in the towel and pretend like it didn’t matter anyway?
Or maybe it is to ask ‘why me?’ and feel like despite your best efforts, nothing ever turns out the way you planned? Or worse yet, maybe you sabotage yourself in little ways without even realizing it – not completing a task, not putting in full effort, not showing up, not studying for that test/exam – just so that when you fail, it’s not a surprise, because wouldn’t it be so much worse to complete that task with your full effort and attention, putting forth your best foot, only to not succeed?
After all, success is everything, right? Wait a second though…. What is success? Does that mean things have to go perfectly the first time, or can you still be successful if you faced struggles head on, made mistakes and learned from them, to go on to find success and happiness?
I’m asking a whole lot of questions here, but they are not pointless. Success is directly linked to our value of ourselves. If you related to any of the above, then maybe you don’t value yourself as much as you initially thought. Maybe there is room for you to learn how to change your thoughts, love yourself, and then go after the life you deserve, mistakes and all.
As we build walls around ourselves or allow others to impose prison walls for us, we have to deal with a myriad of difficult emotions. As a coping mechanism and to keep the peace, many of us have decided it easier and safer to swallow our feelings. Pain, hurt, rage all kept inside in order to maintain a calm exterior. I call this "swallowing the storm". Thus was born the idea for my painting "Bridle". The interesting thing that I've learned is that when we don't honour our feelings and give them a healthy outlet, they just "come out sideways". They can present themselves as anxiety, illness, addiction, or any other unhealthy coping mechanism. While I continued to make myself swallow the storm, holding in my emotions and allowing others to hurl their emotions at me without repercussions, I began to lose myself.
There is a path many women take while journeying through difficult experiences. I believe that in the journey to self love, we first need to come to terms with our emotions. Sad or happy, scared or courageous, allowing ourselves to be human, to feel, and to honour the emotions as they come and go - as long as we don't use them as an excuse to hurt others.
I am so pleased that many were affected by the theme of my recent solo art show at The Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge, and that a dialogue was started around this path to healing.
"Great courage in the face of danger", is how valor is defined by the Oxford Dictionary. I believe that valor is needed to navigate this life. We each have our own battles for which we need courage, strength, and determination.
How amazing to relish those moments where we can enjoy the strength we've gained from weathering a storm. Each obstacle adds a little more strength to our character and gives us knowledge for future challenges.
I believe that this strength also carries a component of embracing our value. Without learning to love ourselves, we will not be able to make the healthy choices in our lives that we need to. We will doubt our decisions. We will follow the crowd. However, when we learn our value, there is an inner strength that stands firm against attack, that believes in our inner voice. When we give that inner voice as much weight as we give other's opinions, we grow stronger. Each time we succeed, we believe in ourselves a little more. And that is how we take fear and self-doubt and build it into valor.
How though can we build our self worth? From my experience, we need to surround ourselves with support systems. As a child learning to walk needs helping hands until they can stand alone, so we need positive supporters until we can learn to trust our own voice. Friends, therapists, social circles, family, support groups, reading, music, these all have a place. They won't be the same for all of us. Only you can decide what form your support will take, who has proven worthy of the task in the past, and who is strong enough to be there for you now and on into the future. Listen to your voice in choosing your support system, change it as circumstances change, or when one of them lets you down. But whatever you do, believe in possibility. Believe that each and every one of us here on this crazy planet has value. Join me here every week, as I explore ways to increase our self esteem, through dialogue, self love, and artistic expression.