At that moment, my desire to accept and love myself just as I am came to full fruition. Not only am I good enough, I am magnificent.
Today I’m thrilled (and more than a little proud) to introduce the first ever guest post at The Art of Audacity by my friend and fellow fear-smasher, Laurie Sutton.
Over the last six months, I’ve watched Laurie create some truly remarkable changes in her life. She’s let go of the insecurities that were holding her back, quit her job of 13 years and is now building her own (profitable) art-business full-time. She’s creating her life on purpose; and she’s a shining example of what’s possible when you really decide that you’re going to allow what you want into your life.
This is her inspiring story…
There are two simple but profound questions that can change the trajectory of your life…
What’s your definition of freedom?
For me, it’s being able to live life on my own terms, free of the need for lots of stuff and lots of money, free of debt and society’s expectations. And along with that, I never wanted to be rich or famous or successful in any kind of conventional way… but I’ve always wanted to be wise.
To be free is to live my life uniquely, seeking wisdom and adventure in my own way.
What’s stopping you?
Well… when faced with that question, I felt a heavy, dark, years-old weight around me that I desperately wanted to shed. Self-judgment, doubt, fear of unworthiness, old destructive thought patterns, and long-suppressed dreams had me feeling like my own mind was the enemy. The way out from under it all felt utterly impossible. But the question itself let in the first tiny rays of light. It was a beginning, and we all need a place to start on the path to liberation.
Six months ago, I made two courageous choices…
First, inspired by Karol Gajda’s What If? posts, I asked myself, “what if I sign up for Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit?” I had no idea how I’d get myself to Portland. I had no clue how I’d come up with the money. I knew my boss would be less than happy about giving me time off to go. And scarier than any of that, I had no inkling of how my introverted 40-year-old self would be able to manage among all those awesome, forward thinking, mostly-younger-than-me rockstars. But I’d been thrilled and moved by the stories I’d been reading in the blogs, about people who were leaving the so-called “real world” to live according to their own Light. I wanted a piece of that, with every particle of my being.
Second, I began working with a life coach. On the outside, my life was not awful. I lived in a nice house, I had a decent job using my artistic skills, I have a family and friends who love me. But inside, I was a friggin’ mess. Mentally and emotionally, I felt surrounded by a wall of resistance four miles high. I needed an anchor, someone who would listen to my stories and pain and fear and not run away no matter what. When Lach invited me to share, the dam burst open. I often wonder if he had any clue what he was getting himself into, but he never once responded with anything but kindness and encouragement, and that gave me the courage to plow ahead. Through Skype calls and dozens of novel-length emails, I began to find my way.
One of the things that inspires me most at The Art of Audacity is the idea of taking on a goal so big you have to grow into the person who can achieve it. For me at the end of 2010, signing up for WDS was that catalyst. That choice sent me on the ride of my life.
Through the long winter months, I began exploring all that resistance. To keep from feeling crushed by despair at the height of the wall, I began by removing one stone. Among other things, I faced the lingering ill effects of a terrifying abusive relationship from four years past. I discovered how all of my bad choices surrounding this relationship had caused me not to trust myself, and I recognized that restoring my self-trust was the golden key to inhabiting my freedom.
I learned the immeasurable value of paying attention to my thoughts and emotions and how they interrelate. I learned that it’s possible to change the quality of my thoughts, and more light began to trickle in. Each week, I worked on removing another stone from that wall of resistance. After awhile, it became two or three stones. I began to have breakthroughs. I was amazed that the process was not so much about resolving old issues as it was about seeing that those issues had no real power over me in the present. I’ll never forget waking up one morning, after a crazy dream about getting married to I guy I didn’t even know, and feeling ecstatic with joy to be free of my old relationship disasters. I’m still not sure exactly what caused the shift, all I knew is that I was free. Suddenly, relationships were not the scariest thing in my world. And I began to feel my power.
After that, victories came my way left and right. The evidence began to pile up. Whatever I decided to change in my life, I went at it with both trepidation and hope, and sailed thru with flying colors. A pattern developed: Feel the fear, worry that I couldn’t do it, step out and try it anyway, be amazed when it worked out great. I started making bigger choices… grow my longtime side project, Water’s Edge Jewelry… set a date to leave my old job, which was playing a major part in the wall of resistance… learn how to build a website… dance on YouTube… Lach’s enthusiasm for fear-smashing was contagious, and I began to experience firsthand how what once seemed impossible could become the next natural step.
As the winter crawled by and turned into spring, my thoughts and feelings about attending WDS changed. I got my ticket, made reservations for my first stay in a hostel, received plane tickets as a birthday gift from my parents, put in my notice at work for May 27th so getting time off wasn’t an issue… all things that I could not foresee back when I signed up. Once again, things worked out for the best in spite of my worries.
All those outer changes feel marvelous to me. My dreams of living life on my own terms were coming true! But I have always been an introspective soul, and my inner world proved much more challenging than the outer. Persistent feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy kept creeping in, even though it was obvious I could rock at whatever I wanted to. On the plane to Portland, I still wondered how I’d manage at that stellar gathering.
What I found was a beautiful sense of belonging…
All of my hard work in learning to pay attention to my thoughts and emotions, to accept and allow instead of resisting, to trust myself and follow my passions, was amplified and echoed at WDS. It wasn’t just the ambitious entrepreneurs and the socially adept who would stop at nothing to live their unique path of freedom. In her beautiful presentation about being unapologetically yourself, Karen Walrond said:
When you compare yourself to others, you’re comparing your inside to their outside.
At that moment, my desire to accept and love myself just as I am came to full fruition. Not only am I good enough, I am magnificent. I am the only one who can contribute my particular gifts to the world. I am the only one who can walk my luminous path!
So here I am, transformed, and transforming. I’ve learned that “impossible” is just a word. I’ve learned that it’s okay to need help, and to receive it. And I want to emphasize something here: Don’t ever compare your fears, or your dreams, to anyone else’s. If I can overcome the fear of inadequacy and unworthiness to blossom into freedom, anyone can. The layers upon layers of self-judgement, doubt, and mistrust I carried for decades are just thoughts with emotions attached. Embracing that was the key which unlocked my true potential. I’ve claimed the freedom that was always mine.
What’s your definition of freedom?
What’s stopping you?
Take care of yourself. Love and trust yourself.
And watch those doors begin to open!