Where Are Your Choices Taking You?

Are your choices taking you toward, or away from, your heart’s deepest desires?
2016 is behind us, and a whole year of potential and possibility lies ahead for us to live into.

Sometimes this involves a complete overhaul, during which we clean out closets, update our wardrobe, get a new hairstyle, and make bold new decisions. We decide to quit our jobs, go back to school, take that dream vacation, be our authentic selves.

Letting go of the old makes room for the new – physically and energetically.
But what happens when the platform of your previous experiences keeps you stuck – choosing over and over again what seems possible – based on old experiences, conditions and perceived limitations?

I recently had a conversation with someone who felt stuck. She had made many geographic moves in years past, and each time reached the same conclusion. She didn’t fit in. Things didn’t work out for her. She moved to another state just a few months ago, full of hope that “this time things would work out.” So far she’s learning a lot about herself, but the external circumstances remain the same.

As I listened to her story, and shared my perspective, it dawned on me that the reason so many people’s dreams don’t transpire isn’t because they’re not good enough, smart enough, intelligent enough, deserving enough, not fill in the blank enough. It’s partly because they lack a clear vision of what it is they truly want, coupled with solid structure & support. But the biggest reason folks have difficulty living into their dreams is because of those darn pesky old belief systems that get in the way, sabotaging their best efforts.

In my last newsletter I asked you to articulate what you would love to do, be, have, experience, express and contribute in the year 2017. When you give yourself permission to really dream, you suddenly find yourself flooded with inspiration. All sorts of beautiful ideas flood in that only moments ago didn’t even register on the radar of your mind. And it all starts with choice.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryan

Are your choices taking toward, or away from, your dreams? Are your choices powerful and life-giving? Do they support your soul’s deepest desires? Or do they keep you subsisting in the shoulder-sagging-gray-bleak-forever-wasteland of “It’s not too bad. It could be worse.” of the land of Settle-dom?

You can choose to do, be, and have anything your heart desires. But first you have to decide on a destination, because not choosing doesn’t take you anywhere. Choosing allows you to set your compass and begin taking steps to move in the direction of your choices.

To Your Freedom,

Jennifer

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”  – Aristotle

Grace and Gratitude

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was “thank you,” that would suffice.”  – Meister Eckhart

I recently read something written by a man that left me with a feeling I haven’t yet articulated. Uncomfortable. Slightly sad. And something else that I haven’t identified yet. He said, “There’s really very little to be thankful for these days…” and then went on to reminisce about how wonderful things were in his childhood.

Now, I don’t know what the man’s experiences were between his supposedly sublime childhood and his twilight years, or what caused him to get lost in nostalgia. Were things really better back then, or just the memories he had chosen to hold onto, the ones that felt good to remember?

I have no idea what kind of life he had, what dragons he slew, what sorrows and heartaches and hardships he endured. But I do know that no matter how bad things were for him, or how bad things are now, there is always something to be grateful for.

I know. You’re probably thinking I have no idea what YOU have been through. That if I knew your story I wouldn’t say such things. You’re right. I don’t know what has happened in your life. But I do know we’ve all endured something, and there’s no point in comparing your ‘somethings’ to anyone else’s ‘somethings’ because each and every one of us has a story that means something. But it only means something to us.

The meaning we’ve attached to our stories has created our perceptions of how the world works as well as who we believe ourselves to be in the world.

Some of our stories contain nightmares straight out of hell. Some of our stories are woven from threads containing thorns as well as roses, giving us a few minor dents and scratches that are part and parcel of this thing we call life, as well as many bouquets of delight. And then there’s everything in between.

But no matter what has happened to us, our human experiences are catalysts for our soul’s growth. Our life is our soul’s curriculum. And that is why I choose gratitude. Because I know that the challenges you and I have experienced have provided us with rich, profound opportunities to cultivate courage, resilience, integrity, wisdom, strength, fortitude, kindness, compassion, generosity, skills we wouldn’t have mastered otherwise, and yes – gratitude.

I typically avoid writing traditional messages of Thanksgiving at this time of year. Not because I’m ungrateful, or that I think the messages are unimportant. It’s simply because I choose to express gratitude every day, not just save it in my back pocket for one special day or one season of thanks giving each year.

Therefore, thanks giving is a daily practice in my life. And not just once a day like taking a shower in the morning. Gratitude is an ongoing, ceasing, never-ending practice. Like yoga, gratitude is not something you *do.* It’s a quality you embody, someone you become.

I’ll be the first to admit that several years ago when I first began studying the Law of Attraction and implementing the practice of gratitude I only expressed thanks for what was good in my life. Commodity gratitude. I felt happy and grateful when things were going well. Grumpy, worried and out of whack when things were tough or not going my way.

It took me a few years of practice to understand that gratitude isn’t something you give only when things are going well. It’s a state of being regardless of what’s going on inside or around us. It’s grace in action. And in grace we live in the magical flow of this beautiful thing each of our souls signed up for. LIFE.

Grace doesn’t mean we don’t, or won’t ever, have challenges, upsets, or traumas. We do, and we will. And yet in the space of grace we are invited by life to live from intention and choice rather than reacting to every not-going-my-way circumstance we encounter.

Incidentally, through the Law of Attraction, the universe interprets our dominant vibration as a signal for “I love this! More please.” If our energy is focused in the direction of fear, anger or any lower vibration emotion for long we start to get more of the same. On the other hand, if our attention is primarily focused on joy, compassion, love, generosity, kindness and gratitude we get…you guessed it! More of the same. By keeping our attention focused on gratitude (our intention) the Law of Attraction magnetizes to us more of those things that resonate on the same wavelength of what we’re grateful for.

Think of it like you’re ordering off a menu from the universe. You don’t need to ask for anything. Just give thanks for every blessing (even if it’s a blessing in disguise that you would have formerly called a challenge or a pain in the tush), and more blessings of similar kind will automatically and inevitably show up.

If you already practice gratitude, kudos to you! But if you’re new to this Law of Attraction thing or you need a gentle reminder to pay attention and give thanks for all the blessings in your life I’d like to invite you to begin a daily practice of gratitude and thanks giving.

I’ll go first. Here are a few of the things I’m grateful for:

  • Peaceful Partings – for being such beautiful gentle souls who helped my 21-year old furry friend transition pain-free and in peace last year. What a tremendous blessing they are!
  • Sunshine, fresh air, clean water
  • Indoor plumbing and hot showers
  • The ability to delight in all my eyes see, my ears hear, all I touch, all I sense with my entire beingness
  • A strong, healthy body with incredibly intelligent cells
  • Warm socks and slippers
  • A soft, warm very comfortable bed to sleep in at night
  • An insulated house (I don’t know how Laura Ingalls managed to not freeze to death in those uninsulated cabins in her Little Houses on the Prairie!)
  • Delicious, nutritious, nurturing food that has been loved and cared for by the soil, sun, wind and rain, and all the hands and hearts that cared for it between its cultivation and my table
  • Discernment and wisdom gained from life experiences
  • Intuition and guidance from spirit
  • The ability to connect deeply and authentically with others
  • Imagination
  • A car that, even though it’s not shiny and new it has heat, runs well and gets me from point A to point B hassle-free
  • Living in a country where, as a woman, I am relatively safe
  • My daughter. She is such an amazing, insightful, wise sage. I fell in love with her the day she was born. I love you to the stars, Marina Bobina!
  • The beautiful luminous soul-sister friendships I’ve cultivated over the years. Thank you for being authentic, wise, terrific listeners, always mentors, kicks in the butt when I need it, truth tellers and truth seers, and steady rocks in the stream of my life. You know who you are and I love you dearly.
  • My best friend of 10 years. You’ve been such an amazing gift in my life. A catalyst for growth and healing and love. Thank you. I love you dearly.
  • Life. All of it. The good, the bad, the sad, the painful, the delightful. Every last golden drop.
  • And finally, last but not least, I am so grateful for the amazing women I have the priviledge and honor of working with. I’m grateful for their courage in saying “Yes” to their dreams, and “No” to their fears. I am grateful that life that I have listened to the voices of my heart and soul and have been gifted with such an amazing path to walk in this life. I love that I know my purpose, and am deeply honored to work with women all over the world and help them live in greater alignment with their soul’s path and purpose.

How about you? What’s on your gratitude list?

With love and gratitude,
Jennifer

“Gratitude opens the door to…the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe. You open the door through gratitude. – Deepak Chopra

Honoring Your Self

In my article Swans Like Jelly I invited you to go in search of your childhood dreams…the things you left behind in order to protect yourself from rejection, shame, humiliation or pain. This is the first thing you need to do to resurrect the swan who lives inside your heart.

Today, I’ll share another tip to help you access the swan and invite her out to play.

Stop the Negative Self-Talk

If you’re a swan who has been raised by ducks, you’ve probably been subject to others talking badly to you (or about you), so there’s no need for you to continue adding to the load of negativity you already carry around.

You see, when you’re a swan who is trying her best to be a duck you have to expend a lot of energy trying to twist your energy this way and that, attempting to squeeze yourself into duck shapes, sizes & colors that aren’t yours to squeeze into. Trying to pretend you are a Mallard duck instead of a swan is rather exhausting, wouldn’t you say?

So, whether your feathers are black, white or a gorgeous shade of something in between, you’re a swan. And swans look, act and behave like…swans.

But what if you’re a swan who doesn’t know it (or you’ve simply forgotten), and you’ve been trying to find your “tribe,” your purpose, or where you “fit” for what feels like forever? Take heart! There are other swans out there looking for you too, I promise! The trick to finding them is to start acting like a swan yourself. And swans don’t beat themselves up for trumpeting instead of quacking.

This week’s challenge invites you to examine all the ways you beat yourself up. Berate yourself. Talk to yourself in ways that make the paint peel from the inner walls of your soul.

Starting immediately, keep a self-talk journal and make an entry each and every time you say something negative to yourself about yourself. It doesn’t matter whether it’s grossly negative or only slightly negative. There’s no gray area here or ‘little white negative self-talk.’ All negative self-talk gets written down for an entire week.

At the end of the week take a peek at the things you say to yourself or others about yourself, even if it’s just in your head. I am willing to bet you are completely unconscious to the fact that you speak to yourself and about yourself in ways that you would never tolerate from another person. Could you imagine if your friends said some of the things to you that you say to yourself? Not in a million gazillion years! Nobody talks to you that way, except, of course…you!

Your negative self-talk is like drinking arsenic every day or pouring bleach down your throat and chasing it with a tonic of ammonia. It poisons your body, mind & soul.

You might be shocked and saddened when you read all the mean, derogatory, nasty and frankly undeserving things you say to yourself. Whether the thoughts are expressed aloud or not, the negative self-talk is verbal abuse and it must stop if you want to become the magnificent beautiful woman you were born to be.

For each negative comment you read in your journal, write five positive retorts from your inner swan. Let her trumpet loud & clear about your strength, courage, wit, intelligence, creativity, sass, brass, and unique beauty. If you think to yourself that your thighs are jiggly, that your stomach is fat, that you’re stupid, that you have a terrible memory, that you’re bad with money, that you make poor decisions, or that you’re a dunce let your inner swan give you five positives for every negative.

Even if you don’t believe her.

And then, next time you catch yourself mid-negative self-flog, halt the thought immediately and let the swan have her say. After a few days of this your inner swan will be like your very own thought coach and spam filter for your body, mind & spirit all rolled into one. She’ll be on the lookout for the dark clouds of negative self-talk and spot them a mile before they show up.

Did you know that a swans beating wings can break a man’s arm? The moment she sees those negative thoughts coming down the road she’ll start flapping and beat them to smithereens, breaking their bones into a million tiny shards. She’s got your back, sister. You can trust her implicitly.

Please feel free to message me or send me an email to let me know how this exercise challenges you, (and I would LOVE to hear what your inner swan tells you about your beautiful magnificence!).

And, if you find that you need additional support in the form of breaking the habit of negative self-talk, or finding things about yourself to love and appreciate, please e-mail me to request a complimentary coaching consultation.

To your freedom,
Jennifer

Invisible Fences

I know a guy who has worn round-toed boots his whole life. Recently, he bought a pair of really (in my opinion) nice looking square-toed boots. Not too square, just square-ish. Did I mention they were really nice? He only wore them for two weeks, but those darn square toes kinda gave him the heebie jeebies so he gave them to his nephew.

They weren’t uncomfortable. They didn’t pinch or rub. They weren’t ugly. The problem? They didn’t match his internal self-image of the guy who wears round-toed boots. And his internal self-image held the key to what he could and could not allow into his life.

I also know a woman who is in her mid-forties who styles her hair and dresses exactly as she did when she was in high school, circa late 1980’s. Her hair is perfectly Farrah Fawcett feathered, and goes well with her bejeweled boot leg jeans and tasselled moccasins.

Let me be clear. I am not making fun of these people. So if I’m not making jest, you might be wondering to yourself why in the heck I’m writing about this. What do round versus square toe boots and 1980’s hairstyles have to do with invisible fences?

When you feel stuck it’s quite possible that you are literally…stuck…in a habit (or several) that keeps your self-image tied to an outdated version of you that is way too small for the version of YOU that is ready to spread her wings & fly.

What do I mean?

Take the really nice looking square-toed boots. I’m sure they looked awesome in the store, the catalog or online shopping cart. But as soon as he put them on the guy’s self-image began whispering insidious messages to him, telling him all kinds of messages about what kind of person he would become if he continued wearing them. After all, guys who wear round-toed boots are certain kinds of men, who look at the world in a certain way and square-toed boot guys…well…they’re sneaky, oily snake oil salesmen (or whatever  messages he heard about guys who wore square-toed boots growing up). And you know that he doesn’t want to be that kind of guy so the only thing to do is rid himself of the source of inevitable future pain and misery.

Nature is a great teacher for growth and transformation. When we observe a tree over the cycle of a year we see it go from brown, barren and shivering icicles off with the warmth of each new sunrise. In the spring it sprouts green buds, and eventually flowers and leafs out. In late summer, the tree drips heavy with the fruits of its labor, and in the Autumn the tree follows the cycles of the sun and begins dropping its jewel colored leaves to prepare for conserving energy during the deep hibernation of winter.

In your own life you can look back and see that you wore pink (or whatever color you loved when you were 7) snowboots and rainboots in size 3. Today, your feet have grown and you now favor black because it’s both practical and stylish to boot (pun intended). In the early 90’s you swapped out the old worn out 70’s Tupperware with orange lids for Rubbermaid, and recently to glass Pyrex. You buy new dishes when the old ones chip or break. You buy a new mattress when you can no longer tolerate waking up in the bottomless crevasse that has formed in the middle. You buy a new TV because you convince yourself you need a new 100” surround sound system. But let’s be honest. You really bought it because it’s cool.

The point I’m making here is that we are designed to grow and change so that we can evolve and become more of our true selves. And in order to grow you must remind your self-image that you are in charge.

Women who are swans raised to believe they were ducklings often have a tough time with real change because their internal voice kicks and screams, telling them they will look silly or stupid, or that they can’t or shouldn’t, or that they’re not smart enough, talented enough, strong enough, brave enough, or (fill in the blank) enough. And the woman believes the voice of her outdated self-image so she stays stuck, unfulfilled and miserable, but doesn’t understand the deeper why.

This week I invite you to look at your habits. Be as objective and kind to yourself as possible. Pretend you are looking from the outside in. What do you see? Outdated hairstyle? Schedule a hair appointment (with a new stylist) who will encourage you to break out of your mold without arguing with you or questioning whether you’re sure. She will also show you how to style it differently so you don’t go home and do the same old two-step with your curling iron. Same style of jeans you’ve been wearing for 20 years? Get thee to the department store and buy a style that you’ve admired other women wearing (but you’ve never even let yourself try them on before). Are you a woman who always wears black or grey, subtle, conservative and polished? Think about your favorite TV character and how she dresses because it’s likely you admire her because she’s bold and not afraid to express herself. Go buy a few outfits that are trendy and colorful that she would wear, and then wear them.

Think about your other habits that no longer serve you. Things you do because your mom did them, and her mom before her, and her mom before her. Do you do things because you were told to, but when you do them they feel icky or stifling? Are you bored? Do these habits serve you now? Are they healthy and functional? Do they lend you the freedom and creativity to be YOURSELF? If not, it’s time to replace them with habits that serve your magnificent soul.

Look, we all know that growth is an inside job. You can’t change the external stuff and think your life is going to change. But lots of women try and expect it to work. But I promise that if you’re stuck in a rut and spinning your wheels it’s your habits that need to change so that your self-image can release its death grip on who it believes you to be.

Once your self-image is on board with a new, updated version of you it will be easier to make the external life changes you long for, like living your soul purpose, finding your soul mate, contributing your amazing soul gifts in the world, making a significant impact in the world, being yourself (fully, completely, authentically and unapologetically), and living your most authentic abundant life.

To your freedom,
Jennifer

Melty-Buttery Feel-Good Joy

If you’ve been trying to be a frog when you’re really a swan, chances are you feel depleted, unfulfilled, inauthentic, and exhausted. It’s tough trying to develop strong jumping haunches, stick out your tongue and catch flies, and ribbit like all the other frogs around when all you want to do is glide peacefully on the still waters, or spread your wings and fly to where your tribe and purpose reside, and trumpet joyfully back and forth among all your friends.

Be honest with yourself

It’s time to stop trying to jump, croak and catch flies, and instead allow yourself to soar gracefully – whether on the water or in the air. That means you must be honest with yourself. Where are you trying to fit in and be accepted, when it’s clear that your efforts would yield bounteous fruits elsewhere (even if you don’t yet know where ‘elsewhere’ is)?

I know it’s tough when you first begin to believe that you are, in fact, a swan and not a frog, to find things you appreciate – even love – about yourself. And if you don’t feel safe or *ready* to do this exercise it’s a clear sign that it’s high time to do so.

So get out your pen, pencil, quill or preferred writing utensil and a notebook. If you’ve been reading my posts you should have a good journal going by now.

Start with something easy. When I first did this exercise several years ago the only thing I could find about myself that I appreciated was my toes. Over the years, I’ve grown to love (even adore) myself. But it didn’t start that way, so I understand if this feels scary or challenging for you.

But it must be done.

Every day for an entire month (because it takes 21 days to establish new thought patterns and habits, so I’m challenging you to extend it to 30) you must find one new thing you appreciate about yourself. It can be the way you pinch your pie crusts better than your grandma, whose pies are legendary in your family. It can be how your eyes crinkle up at the corners and light up when you’re really happy. It can be how you’re able to say just the right thing when someone you know is having a tough day. It can be that your nose and freckles are rather adorable, thank you very much. Or that your curly unruly hair is truly amazing. Or that your smile lights up the entire room when you walk in, or that your presence makes people feel peaceful and at ease around you. It can be that you know how to rally and wrangle a room full of elementary age kids.

It can be a skill you have, a quality you’ve cultivated, a talent, or something about your body, your intelligence, or anything you choose.
But you must select one new thing each day for 30 days, and then fully feel into the feelings of appreciation, love, adoration until every cell in your body is vibrating with drippy, melty buttery feel-good joy for an entire minute (five is better) each and every day.

This will go a long way toward helping you to stop pouring your energy into things that continue to make you feel like a misfit, like there’s something wrong with you or that you’re somehow lacking. Instead, your inner swan will begin to redirect your energy toward things that deeply feed and nourish your heart and soul – things that perpetuate the feeling of drippy melty feel-good buttery joy.

To your freedom,
Jennifer

Spam Filter

Last week I invited you to go in search of your childhood dreams…the things you left behind in order to protect yourself from rejection, shame, humiliation or pain. This is the first thing you need to do to resurrect the swan who lives inside your heart.

Today, I’ll share another tip to help you access the swan and invite her out to play.

Stop the Negative Self-Talk

If you’re a swan who has been raised by ducks, you’ve probably been subject to others talking badly to you (or about you), so there’s no need for you to continue adding to the load of negativity you already carry around.

You see, when you’re a swan who is trying her best to be a duck you have to expend a lot of energy trying to twist your energy this way and that, and attempt to squeeze your self into duck shapes, sizes & colors that aren’t yours to squeeze into. Trying to pretend you are a Mallard duck instead of a swan is rather exhausting, wouldn’t you say?

So, whether your feathers are black, white or a gorgeous shade of something in between, you’re a swan. And swans look, act and behave like…swans.

But, what if you’re a swan who doesn’t know it (or you’ve simply forgotten), and you’ve felt like you don’t fit, don’t belong, that you’re not good enough, smart enough, or DUCK-Y enough? You’ve been trying to find your “tribe”, your purpose, or where you “fit” for what feels like forever? Take heart! There are other swans out there looking for you too, I promise! The trick to finding them is to start acting like a swan yourself. And swans don’t beat themselves up for trumpeting instead of quacking.

This week’s challenge invites you to examine all the ways you beat yourself up. Berate yourself. Talk to yourself in ways that make the paint blister and peel from your the inner walls of your soul.

Starting immediately, keep a self-talk journal and make an entry each and every time you say something negative to yourself about yourself. It doesn’t matter whether it’s grossly negative or only slightly negative. There’s no gray area here or ‘little white negative self-talk.’ All negative self-talk gets written down for an entire week.

At the end of the week take a peek at the things you say to yourself or others about yourself (even if it’s just in your head) I am willing to bet you are completely unconscious to the fact that say things that you would never tolerate from another person. Could you imagine if your boss, a stranger on the bus or your best friend said some of the things to you that you say to yourself? Not even if hell were to freeze over! Nobody talks to you that way, except, of course…you! Your negative self-talk is like drinking arsenic every day or pouring bleach down your throat and chasing it with a tonic of ammonia. It poisons your body, mind & soul.

Reading your journal you might be shocked and saddened when you read all the mean, derogatory, nasty and frankly undeserving things you say to yourself. Whether the thoughts are expressed aloud or not, the negative self-talk is verbal abuse and it must stop if you want to become the magnificent beautiful woman you were born to be.

For each negative comment you read in your journal, write five positive retorts from your inner swan. Let her trumpet loud & clear about your strength, courage, wit, intelligence, creativity, sass, brass, and unique beauty. If you think to yourself that your thighs are jiggly, that your stomach is fat, that you’re stupid, that you have a terrible memory, that you’re bad with money, that you make poor decisions, or that you’re a dunce let your swan give you five positives for every negative.

Even if you don’t believe her.

Did you know that a swans beating wings can break a man’s arm? The next time you catch yourself mid-negative self-flog, let your inner swan have a swat at them. After a few days of this she’ll be like your very own thought coach and spam filter for your body, mind & spirit all rolled into one. She’ll be your sentinel, on the lookout for the dark clouds of negative self-talk, spotting them a mile before they show up. The moment she sees those negative thoughts coming down the road she’ll start flapping and beat them to smithereens, breaking their bones into a million tiny shards. She’s got your back, sister. She’s strong, courageous, graceful and you can trust her implicitly.

Please feel free to message me or send me an email to let me know how this exercise challenges you, (and I would LOVE to hear what your inner swan tells you about your beautiful magnificence!).

And, if you find that you need additional support in the form of breaking the nasty habit of negative self-talk, or finding things about yourself to love and appreciate, please e-mail me to request a complimentary coaching consultation.

To your freedom,
Jennifer

Swans Like Jelly

Swans Like Jelly

Have you read the story of the ugly duckling? If you haven’t, or you don’t remember, here’s the synopsis: all of a mother duck’s eggs hatch except one that is much larger than the others. Another duck tells her it’s a goose egg and to leave it alone because, as you know, you can’t get geese to go in the water. As we know, geese love water. The mother duck thinks perhaps the large egg just needs a bit more time, and sure enough it soon begins to crack and out comes…the ugliest gangliest duckling she’s ever seen. Being a good duck mother she thinks that with time and love the odd duck will grow up to be like the others.

However, the other ducks and farm animals torment the little duckling so much that it flees the farm in search of peace. It nearly freezes to death over that long winter, as it roams from village to village and lake to lake, trying to find a place where it belongs. One cold day two beautiful birds soar overhead, the most majestic graceful birds he’s ever seen with their white wings outstretched. Their cry makes the ugly duckling’s heart swell and his spirit soars as he contemplates the magnificent creatures he’s just seen.

Finally, the following spring the lakes begin to thaw and two of those same majestic birds fly down and land in the lake he is swimming in. After so much pain and rejection he’s afraid to approach the beautiful birds, but then thinks to himself that he has nothing to lose. Swimming over to the beautiful birds they begin to praise him. Confused, he looks in the water and sees his reflection: he’s one of them. He’s not a duckling after all. He’s a beautiful swan.

I just finished reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ rendition of the Ugly Duckling as an archetype of some women’s experience in her book Women Who Run with the Wolves and I now have a name for what many of my clients are experiencing when we first begin working together.

The Ugly Duckling Syndrome

During our consultation or sometimes in the discovery session they share that deep down they have always felt like a misfit, like they don’t belong, like they’re a fraud and someone is going to find out they’re not really very smart or talented. Or, they feel lost, like they can’t find their “people” or their “tribe,” and they struggle with “Why am I here?” and “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Most often, they have cushy professional jobs with a nice income, but they feel out of alignment with their job (it doesn’t fit their most authentic self). They feel like they can’t really be themselves, and if they do they’re afraid of rejection, shame, humiliation, or being cast out.

As a child I, too, felt like a misfit. I am deeply connected to spirit. My family is very conservative, grounded and practical, with no room for the mystical or mysterious. I loved daydreaming. I was told to stop daydreaming, come back to earth and do something useful. I grew up feeling like a lotus-petaled peg trying to squeeze my too-large-spirit into a teeny tiny round hole.

I loved the story of the ugly duckling because it gave me hope for myself all the other kids (and adults) who felt like misfits. And it’s no wonder that I’m drawn to working with women who feel like misfits. I’ve walked in their shoes. I know what it’s like. And, I know that when you’re a swan raised by ducks there are very specific solutions to help you:
a. remember your swan-ness
b. reclaim your power from those who insist on mistreating you because you’re different
c. rediscover the beautiful gifts you’re here to contribute (let’s call this your purpose)

One thing I know for certain. If you have been feeling different all your life and beating yourself up about it, it’s high time you stop that nonsense and start treating yourself like the amazing beautiful graceful courageous woman that you are.

Begin by taking inventory of all the things you love but don’t allow yourself to do because of other people’s disapproval (early childhood up til now). When I was a child I loved to dance, sing, draw, paint, write and tell stories, and I loved my grandmother’s homemade jelly. Apple butter. Choke cherry. Raspberry. Chokecherry-raspberry (together). Apricot. Plum. They were all delicious. And when I ate them I felt incredibly happy and loved.

As I grew older and extreme self-consciousness about not fitting in began to take over, one my one I stopped drawing, painting, writing, story-telling, singing. I even stopped eating jelly. It was my way of putting a cork on the things I loved as a way of protecting them from being taken away by anyone else.

As an adult, it’s taken me many years to allow myself to uncork those simple pleasures. One by one, I have surrendered to my soul’s siren song, calling me to write, to draw, to sing, to tell stories, to paint, to dance…

Recently, a friend came to my house and cooked breakfast for me while I was recovering from surgery. She brought a jar of homemade apricot jelly. It was absolutely delicious! And, it brought back all those childhood memories of things loved and left behind.

Do you know what I discovered? Swans like jelly!

If you secretly feel like you’re not good enough, not as smart as everyone else, like you’re a fraud, or that you’re different from everyone else let me assuage your fears and tell you that you’re probably a swan and you just don’t know it, or you forgot. Your challenge this week is to dig up your childhood memories of things loved and left behind, and then let yourself do one or two (or several) of them with zero guilt.

If it’s drawing your inner child doesn’t need the best pencils and sketching paper. She’ll do just fine with a piece of copy paper or a sketch pad and a good old #2. If it’s painting, you don’t need to invest hundreds in paper, brushes and paint. Get thee to Hobby Lobby or Michael’s and let your inner child buy an inexpensive watercolor set, a few brushes and a watercolor pad. If it’s singing, open your mouth and let sounds come out that make your heart fill with joy and tears fill your ears as they run down from your eyes in rivers of passion finally released from long years in prison. It doesn’t matter if you’re on pitch or if you know the words. Sing whatever wants to come pouring out. Your houseplants will cheer you on. If it’s writing, buy a spiral notebook and put pencil to paper. It’s OK, you can let yourself get out of bed 15 minutes earlier every morning without grumbling. Doing so will allow all manner of joy to spring forth, and by day two or three you’ll be racing to get out of bed to write, and perhaps for 30 minutes instead of 15. And if it’s dancing, well….get off the couch and shake that thang. Enroll in a Nia class, a Salsa class, Flamenco or Waltz. Let your hips sway while you iron or cook dinner. Jig in the car on the way to work while listening to the radio. It’s OK, the seat won’t mind a bit of rump jumping.

Your art is your life. To stifle it is to stifle your creative self, your soul. It is to put a chokehold on your life force until there is nothing left but blank soulless eyes and a heart aching to let your soul off its leash to play, create, dance, write, sing. To allow yourself to play and do art is the quickest way to let the swan come to life, for it is in the process of doing something she loves where she’s really in her element. When she’s engaged in her passion she can spread her wings and feel expansive and free. She is able to own her gifts as something magnificent, instead of hiding. Do the things you once loved and left behind. I promise it will begin to thaw the ice around your heart and soul, and in no time at all the swan will stand dripping at your doorstep ready to fully awaken.

If you’ve been thinking this whole time that you were a duck, but you have a gnawing feeling that perhaps you’re really a swan my Swan Coaching & Healing Program can help you discover who you really are (your purpose), align yourself with your most authentic life that is congruent with your heart and soul, and contribute your beautiful gifts in the world. Along the way you’ll also discover inner reserves of joy, courage, resources, resilience, tenacity, power, brilliance, strength, and intuition that perhaps you’ve never given yourself credit for, which will transform the way you perceive yourself, and ultimately how the world perceives you!

You are not here struggle and try to fit into a life that is too small for your magnificent soul. You are here to thrive, and your soul is ready to shine brilliantly in the world. It’s time to stop hiding your light, and start acting like the magnificent woman you are. You’re here to contribute something unique and amazing! You’re different for a reason, so let’s find out what that reason is.

To your freedom,
Jennifer

“Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein