40 Things I Did To Transform My Self and My Life

January 1, 2013 by  
Filed under INNER JOURNEY

I have been on my own now for just over seven years.  Seven is a magical number and realizing this has caused me to sit back and think about all that I did to transform and empower myself – and to ultimately completely change my life. It has been a time of sweet and joyous reunion with myself, but also a time of enormous emotional, psychological, spiritual and intellectual growth. Many women ask me what I did to change the trajectory of my path. I tell them that I didn’t have much of a choice – it just had to come out , come to fruition, and be. My Spirit wouldn’t have it any other way. It pushed me in quiet ways and in not so quiet ways. There were definitely days when my Spirit was screaming at me, trying to get my attention.  I have to say that it was both easy and difficult all at the same time. It has been the best of journeys despite the pain, fear, and loss.

I often sense that many women aren’t willing to do the really tough work that comes with transformation. Shedding old ways that are steeped in a lifetime of enculturation and habit isn’t easy to do AT ALL. Facing deep wounds and traumas, regrets, and disappointments is no walk in the park either.  These were all extremely hard for me, no doubt, but truly the most difficult part of my transformation was forgiving myself for absolutely, completely 100% losing myself and not believing in the importance of my own life. The amount of shame and humiliation I felt for this was enormous and staggering to say the least.

But transformation requires us to push through and dig deep. So that is what I did. Like I said, my Spirit led the way and I’m glad I followed.

So I thought I would chronicle all the things I did to reunite with myself after a decade’s long abandonment of my core essence.

Maybe some of the things I have done will plant a seed for a similarly transformative activity for you.

    • I went to counseling every Friday night for two years. I used to joke that it was my weekly ‘date night’ – but only with myself.  I chose a wise, elderly woman in her mid-70’s for my counselor – it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. She was a sage, a crone, a governess, a shepherd. She nurtured me back to myself in so many ways and was always happy to see me. In her I truly found someone who accepted all of me – the good, the bad, the ugly – without judgment. And because of that I could finally get on to the business of authentically healing myself. With her I had a support. Her careful guidance pushed me just enough so that I could make regular breakthroughs without crashing down around myself. I’ll never forget her. And I’ll always remember how she taught me that “Why?” is never the right question.
    • I started reading again. At my peak I was reading about 50 books a year or about one a week. I was voracious not just about learning new ways of being, thinking, and doing but also about affirming my deeply buried Inner Voice, my way of perceiving, and how to resurrect dreams that fell by the way side. I read every book I could find that focused on the Divine Feminine Spirit and in doing so it hastened the eventual reunion with myself I so craved and needed desperately.
    • From the books I created an actual library, something I had always wanted in my home ~ a set of beautiful white shelves to hold all of my new knowledge accented with comfortable reading chairs, pottery, a diminutive crystal chandolier, china, and other accoutrements that made me feel inspired and reminded me of the positive aspects of my heritage.
    • Because people frequently said they could “see my aura” I learned about and studied my auras. I realized I too was an energy reader though I cannot see colors emanating from people’s bodies. I focused on learning to read my own energy so that I could self-regulate more easily. And it worked.
    • I’ve always had little birds hanging around with me my whole life and particular ones always find me no matter where I’m at. When a neighbor mentioned that birds were my “totem” animal, I learned about and studied animal totems and the Native American perspective of the role of animals in our lives. This gave me great comfort and steadfastness in the Universe. I no longer felt alone. Animal totems have helped me feel completely “connected.” This relieved intense amounts of anxiety about my personal well-being and safety.

mourning doves ~ totems for the “in-between times” of transition

  • I learned about and studied Goddess energies. I figured out which of the Greek goddesses I embody the most and learned that all goddesses have particular strengths and wounds.  By tapping into the energies of the goddesses I typically didn’t relate to I was able to create balance in my relationships and everyday psyche.
  • I bought an iPod – back then that was pretty hip and cool! – and I started listening to music again, something I hadn’t done since college. I loaded it up with music performed by strong but  feminine role models, like Tori Amos, Madonna, Sarah McLachlan, Tina Dico, Sheryl Crow, Beth Orton, Jewel, Bjork, Cher, and more. Listening to their uplifting melodies and empowering messages gave me more and more confidence to express myself via my own creative pursuits. I realized that I wrote like a Dreamer, a lyricist, a poet. And I decided if they could do it, I could, too. So I did. I put my creative visions onto paper. The outcome is that I now had something creative to do with my pain. This is the only way to heal yourself of your pain. You absolutely have to get creative with it.
  • I designed and made Healing Wheels for myself – filling them up with favorite activities and interests I had forgotten and new ones to energize me. These “wheels” gave me encouragement when I needed inspiration to keep moving forward in my journey. ~~~ Learn how to make your own Healing Wheels here — very easy!
  • I made a list of over 100 things I valued about myself – how I think about and process ideas, what others tell me they have enjoyed feeling through me, and the things I’ve always secretly liked about myself that sometimes family and culture try to squelch. The 100+ list gave me a real sense of my talents and gifts and that in and of itself led to many breakthroughs in my transformation and self-healing.
  • To practice gratitude and to let go of negative feelings and attitudes, I started identifying Daily Simple Pleasures.  This helped me feel that each day was perfect no matter what because a Simple Pleasure WAS embodied in every single day. This has been one of the most successful  stress relief techniques I’ve ever tried.
  • I wrote in journals almost daily – anything that gave me comfort, inspiration, affirmation, and courage.  Song lyrics, poems, snippets of observations, inspirational quotes, bucket lists, goals, and magazine cut-outs of items, places, and activities I aspired to, all gave me hope, calm, and bravery.
  • I started decluttering all my personal spaces and created altars in place of the clutter: Altars to specific goddess energies, altars to animal totems, altars to the Light.
  • I got a passport and finally started to travel again; a lifelong goal that had been foregone was back on track.
  • I got a make-over – I started getting manicures and pedicures, and I made a standing appointment for my hair styling. Then I grew my hair into a new style that better suited how I was feeling on the inside. I bought new makeup and custom ordered foundation that exactly matched my skin tone.  I got a Health Club membership and worked with a personal trainer. I lost weight. And I started to wear high heels again, too.
  • I got a proper bra fitting and started purchasing the right kinds of undergarments that were appropriate for my body type. The difference elevated my self-esteem immeasurably and gave me added confidence in my external appearance. I was changing physically right in front of my very own eyes.
  • I started to wear jewelry and perfume again – this time focusing on rocks, gems and stones that had personal healing significance for me. I needed protection so I started wearing Onyx. I also wanted to be grounded so I wore a Smoky Quartz ring. And for healing, I wore a lot of turquoise, since it is considered a universal healing stone. These simple acts gave me enormous pleasure and comfort. I still do this with rocks, gems and stones.
  • I framed and displayed photos of myself from various stages of my life, including babyhood, early childhood, and college. This helped remind me of where and who I have been along my eventful journey and that all of it has been good in one way or another. The photos remind me that the child and the girl still reside within the woman I’ve become.
  • I bought a camera – a really good one – and started studying photography.  This interest has become a huge outlet for my creativity and expression, as well as a documentation tool for my career and business.
  • I bought sketchbooks and art supplies and started dabbling – I found out I could still draw from when I was a child. So much came pouring out of me, like over 100 images of the Pinwheel Girl, and even more still today. Creativity heals, I have no doubts about that at all anymore.
  • I started to explore the medium of collage and as a result I made a Soul Collage for myself which documented my lifelong path of symbols and synchronicities, and the duality I had been living with for most of my life. The collage was immensely satisfying – so I framed it and hung it in my home right outside my bedroom door.  I see it everyday when I wake and now have a visual representation of my life and its story. ~~~ Learn how to make your own Soul Collage here.

soul collage ~ symbols & synchronicities

  • I took a lot of classes – new things to learn was a big goal – I wanted to spend time developing me. So I took classes on Feng Shui, Book Development, Social Media, Marketing, Writing, and Character Development. I met fascinating people and broadened my intellectual understandings of new topics.  This made me feel competent and “in the zone.”
  • I started a Dream Journal. I knew that my subconscious had been whispering very loudly to me while I was sleeping over the years but I wasn’t primed to listen. Using a dream journal helped me habitualize the interpretation of my dreams.
  • The dream journal led me to a long and intense study of symbols and their meanings. I made a large list of all the symbols that reoccur in my life as well as my favorites, the ones I have a proclivity with, and their spiritual meanings. This opened up a huge door for me to feel loved and cared for by the Universe everyday. So much of my life made sense when I could fully understand on a cognitive level what all the reoccurring symbols meant spiritually.
  • I learned about Saints and identified my patrons. Some came to me in Dreams, others in synchronicities, still others in visions. Learning their stories and biographies helped me to see their epic spirituality nestled within their humble humanity. They became role models for me in the development of my own spirituality. Through them I learn about forgiveness, compassion, courage, self-expression, and love.
  • I completed the Meyers-Briggs Personality Assessment and learned in great detail about my temperaments and dispositions. Finally the different and somewhat conflicting aspects of my personality made sense. I felt whole and integrated. I now had words to describe all the inconsistencies within me.
  • I started working diligently on forgiveness. I read books on forgiveness and listened to audiotapes on it. I made lists of wounds that needed to be healed and people I needed to forgive. When I was able to forgive several key people in my life for the disappointments and wounds I experienced in my relationships with them, I was free. I came to see that the only way out is through and the only way through is via forgiveness. There is no other way.
  • I trained for and walked in the Susan G Komen 60 Mile Walk for Breast Cancer.  Doing so fueled my physical and emotional strength to keep working towards my overall well-being, health, and positive outcomes for my future.
  • I scheduled massages every other week. I learned that regular massage boosts your immune system, lowers stress, and relaxes the mind and body. Massage has become an essential feature of my self-care routines.
  • I started painting – something I had wanted to do for a lifetime.
  • I did visual imagery exercises.
  • I set personal goals every year in the areas of Health, Career, Finances, Creativity, Family, Parenting, and Home — and identified an annual theme for myself to help me continue to grow and evolve. I had always set professional goals every year in my job and the lack of doing so in my personal life I think is what accelerated my demise. I chose personal themes such as The Year of the Pioneer (for being open to and trying new things), The Year of Creativity (for healing myself through exploring creative pursuits), The Year of Forgiveness (for freeing myself of the pain of despair, loss, and sadness), The Year of Empowerment (for emboldening myself with new ways of thinking and being), and more. Then I had quarterly meetings with myself to see how I was doing.
  • I identified my “love” languages which created enormous clarity in my past and current relationships with EVERYONE. I realized I show my Love towards others via words, cards, gifts, and physical gestures of affection. I also learned that while I expected others to do the exact same in return for me to show their Love not everyone has these same “languages” for expressing Love. Some might prefer spending Time on you or doing nice things for you as their “language.” When I understood that a whole new way of looking at relationships opened up for me.
  • I started taking vacations – short ones and long ones. I made lists of where and what I wanted to do. Places to experience and explore. Famous sites and icons to see. Restful and relaxing places to rejuvenate.  This was a HUGE change for me as “vacations” in the past had always meant visiting and staying with family. There’s nothing wrong with that of course but now I wanted to also see the world.
  • I started getting involved in humanitarian and community service projects. Nothing hit harder than the realization that to heal yourself you need to start with healing others. This concept has truly changed my life and my daily outlook.
  • I bought my dream car – a model I had wanted since I was 18 years old.  What this signified to me is that I don’t have to and shouldn’t keep putting my needs and wants dead last.
  • I set personal boundaries where none had hardly existed. This was critical to my overall wellbeing both emotionally and physically. To do this I learned to trust my guts – if my guts said “no, don’t do that” or “no, don’t spend your time with that person” I listened.
  • I hired coaches to help me learn about my leadership and communication style at work in my career. This led to a make-over in my professional image that has served me very well.
  • I wrote, illustrated, edited, and self-published a women’s self-help book from start-to-finish on empowerment and launched a companion website, blog, and product line.
  • I learned how to take care of a home by myself and in the process I took care of me. This was very scary at first because I realized I had a codependency pattern with my parents and with my ex-husband – I always wanted them to do things for me that I preferred to avoid. Now I have a rolodex of business cards of professional services to call upon when I need assistance. Planning ahead and caring for my home is now part of my annual goals.
  • In learning how to care for my home, I created a sanctuary. I filled my new home with things that comforted and inspired me. I chose colors that hugged me — a dusty pink living room, a sunny yellow kitchen, a pale green bedroom — and accessorized with high quality but functional items that would envelope me in beauty. And I edited — discarding items that reminded me of painful experiences or that no longer served my highest good.

I’m sure there are more activities that I did than this but these are the ones I can remember in those early years when empowerment, transformation and personal evolution were peaking. I was reinventing myself and doing it quickly.  I was hungry for growth EVERYDAY. It was simultaneously the most exciting and most despairing time of my entire life – but I wouldn’t change a thing and I have no regrets.

It is so important to embrace the process of transformation and change because once it starts you cannot really ever go back to the way that you once were. This is a good thing – it’s the whole point. I often think of a song by Stevie Nicks I listened to often during this time when I was scared, feeling alone, confused or overwhelmed – in it her vocals soared through the air “…you will never change again the way that you are changing…” I would play that song over and over again just to hear that one line. It made me feel hopeful and glad at the same time – hopeful that all the change was leading me back to my true self and glad that, despite the hard work of it all, these changes were something to be grateful for because they would never come again in exactly this way.

I hope some of these ideas will inspire you to keep moving forward on your journey to authenticity. It’s all inside of you and activities like these, and others, can nudge all of that out into the open where it’s meant to be.

Remember, the best way out is through.

As always I send you my Biggest Love.

 

 

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