Identity and understanding how we fit in the world

This summer I was going through a really interesting process of discovering how I identified myself and this post was a capture of what I was thinking at the time.  It was almost a full blown "who am I?" without me actually asking that question.  It was more of a how to I identify myself?  What do I like?  How do I represent myself? What is the essence of my spirit?  It was a "who am I?" with some concrete labels and other identifiers behind it.  What it served to do was broaden my own definition of myself since, as you'll read below, I had traditionally had a very narrow view on who I was and how I fit into the world.


When I quit my career in HR to go back to school to be a nutritionist I had an identity crisis.  The plan for 4 years at that point had always been to save up money so I could quit my day job and dedicate myself to my studies. I was really excited when I finally quit, beyond the part where I could get up and not have to go to a job that brought me no joy. What I wasn't expecting was the total identity crisis that happened.

What is identity?

Identity is a really subconscious and subjective thing.  I certainly never thought about it much beyond my coach training and never in the practical context of my own life till it was smacking me in the face.

Identity can be summed up with the question: who or what am I the same as? When we can identify ourselves as being the same as something or someone we gain safety in knowing that we fit in.  To our deep critter brain programming, if you fit in in society you won’t be an outcast and die. That identity piece gets a little more sophisticated as our brains develop and we begin to perceive how we fit in in the greater world around us.

We often identify ourselves with the roles we play and the jobs we do. We first learn how to identify ourselves through our family relationships; we are first a girl or a boy, then a brother, sister, son, and daughter.  We begin exploring the world and applying more labels when we go to school and beyond. When we leave home our identity is further shaped by how we spend most of our time or what takes our focus.  

Think about any time you have switched jobs or organizations.  There is always that tentative period in the beginning where you are acclimatizing to the new environment, to the new culture of the team or organization.  In this period of time you are figuring out how you fit in.  Gradually you relax once you begin to understand the environment.  If you re doing the same sort of job as before, the process is a lot easier since you have previous knowledge to fall back on and can feel secure in.  You already know half or more or what you need to know to do the job, you can feel assured in your own ability.

The reason it was so hard for me to transition into being a student was that I really strongly identified with my job, it was actually the primary way I identified myself to others, that was how I fit into the world so once I turned my back on it, I was on shaky ground. Plus I didn’t know how “student” worked so I was in full blown internal chaos.  It should have been bliss!

Without realizing the state of chaos I was in I made it worse (in my search for identity and survival) by plunging headlong into creating a coaching business.  I automatically added a couple more layers to figure out and made it so I couldn’t even fully focus on one thing.  I was forever multitasking and couldn’t understand how these aspects of me worked together.  I was trying to combine two or more labels while I was still learning how to operate as them.

I also understand now that a large piece of my worth as an individual at that time (another big topic in life!) was wrapped up in being outwardly productive.  It could be described as looking like I am busy, having a pile of work that was done at the end of the day.  I had real difficulties working on projects that couldn't be done in a day or two since the conceptual, problem solving aspects did not amount to having a pile of stuff done at the edge of my desk by the end of the day.  I still bump up against that now from time to time.

My big epiphany came when I got the message:  What you do, does not define who you are.  You are a person, and your job is where you spend a large amount of your time; however, you are not your job.

Up until recently this was still a big mess for me.  I was still identifying myself by what I was doing (and that pile of done stuff at the end of the day) but "Who I am" and "What I am here to do/how I am spending my time on this planet" are two totally different things. I am here on this earth to have an experience of life.  I just happen to have made it my job to share what I have learned in order to help others, but my primary mission in life is to live life!  Not to be my job. 

I’m sure if you look around you, you can point out at least one person in your life that does not have this sort of definition between themselves and what they do.  These two things are merged.  I am not saying that it is wrong, it’s just one way of doing it.  But what happens to that person if they don’t have a strong sense of self and you take that job away from them?  They go into internal chaos and crisis just like I did.

I think it’s important that we explore who we are as a way of broadening our own definition.  If I hadn’t been so tied up in who I was through my job I might have been able to make that transition in a much more graceful way.  Also sticking to what I was doing in the immediate moment instead of trying to define my future self who hadn't arrived yet (and would never arrive in that manner anyways) would have helped immensely.  But I don't think too many people really take the trouble to look at themselves this way unless they have something that forces their hand.  Or maybe everyone does and they're not talking about it?

Now that I have graduated from school and started to understand what it is I want to do (not what I thought at all!), I am having this great opportunity to go through a process of definition of my business and myself.  I realize that my business is a separate entity from me with it’s own identity. I am not required to be my job or my business in the way that I would have become the organization or job before. I don't have to conform myself to a cultural identity and what's more; I actually get to decide what the culture of my business is.  Still that doesn’t mean that I become it.

In this pursuit of indentifying myself I am also in the process of defining the purpose and reason behind practically everything I spend my time creating.  This is another way of identifying myself by defining the things and concepts around me.  This helps me focus my energies more and creates boundaries to channel the energy instead of being all foggy and distracted by not really understanding what it is I'm working on or the purpose of my environment. It's hard to explain, but by defining all the edges my own edges and essence become more solid.

  A surprising part of this whole process of definition that came up is the understanding that my personal style is separate from the aesthetics of my brand. It seemed ridiculous that I hadn't realized that before but it was a necessary distinction and further reminder that I am not my job.

When we work in an environment and culture with a lot of people and have to adhere to a dress code we might not be able to express ourselves through our style as we would have otherwise.  I used to just get clothes that ticked the job boxes of looking respectable and upholding the dress code, with little though to identifying myself through these clothes.  Now a whole new realm has been opened to me where I get to make decisions about how I represent myself visually and how clothes make me feel.  Turns out the colours I wear are the most important factor for me.  Clothes shopping as I’ve known it has been turned on it’s head and I have a new set of parameters beyond getting what’s on sale at Banana Republic.

My business also has a visual identity that expresses certain beliefs and evokes particular feelings.  It has an essence of its own that is separate from me.


So what labels or identity pieces do you apply to yourself?

If you met a stranger at a party, (assuming you aren’t deliberately trying to network for career reasons) how do you introduce yourself?  This is a clear indication of the primary ways you identify yourself and what is important to you.  Do you identify yourself as a mother or hobbyist of some sort or do you immediately blurt out what it is you do for a living? 

What you say about yourself also says something about what you believe about yourself and what you value as important.

How do you define the essence of your spirit?  What colours represent it?  What shapes?  What pictures? What calls to your soul when you consider this?  Creating a mood board can help you to capture your essence or the essence of the thing you are trying to define.  I now have a mood board for myself that holds the things that I consider important along with a couple of pictures that capture the essence of the person I strive to embody and how I want to navigate my life.  I have a separate board for my business to capture its spirit and how I want it to inspire others.

Other tell tale signs are what makes you feel good, comfortable or otherwise happy?  How do you spend your time?  What lights you up? These are also identifiers of who you are.


Now having gone through this process I see myself merging with my business in a different way.  After all, it is my playground where I get to have fun and be myself in so now I am considering how I want to interact with it, but with a strong sense of self where before it was just a messy muddle.

Money and the Legacy of Family Values

I got a ping to explore a generational legacy of a belief I have about myself and man did it ever balloon into something really cool. I had written it down on a post it and the original thought was temporarily forgotten while I later looked for an exercise I thought I had.  I never did find the exercise but no matter, what came out of the thought process was brilliant enough.

Someone asked me once to write about money and I kinda brushed it off. Sorry to that individual, you know who you are. Firstly I did have an agenda for my blog posts for the year, I wasn't lying.  I did feel slightly bad about using it as a cop out though since I did veer off from time to time and eventually just stopped looking at it, preferring to write from inspiration instead. I did add money to the list of topics though, it has never been far from my mind but I never really felt like I had much to say about money other than assuring you that it is ok to use it. I’m no expert and I am certainly going against the grain of popular financial thinking by using my retirement savings to fund my life, which I had actually planned very consciously to do, but the truth is I have never made those withdrawals without a TONNE of emotional baggage dogging my actions and now I can talk about why. 

My relationship with money is mostly one of avoidance. It is a black hole for me. I might give it some lip service, (I have successfully tracked my income and expenses for 2 years now!) but I don't have a real relationship with my money. What I do, I mostly do because I "should".  I know stuff about money and finances, I know stuff about investing. How about the concept of using all the credit you are given to invest in yourself and not make it an absolute priority to pay back right away? That's a different idea I picked up at some point and very conflicting internally as well.

Every time I needed to make a withdrawal, I really had to convince myself that I was allowed to access the money I had worked hard for, the money that was rightfully mine. I would agonize over emailing my financial advisor. I would procrastinate and put it off as long as possible. This summer I left it for over a month beyond when I really needed it and there was an issue with the transfer and it went on a full three weeks of me without my money before I said anything. This is me in a really poor relationship with something that is rightfully mine and very valuable. If that was my paycheque I never would have acted that way.  So what the heck? 

I wonder if all my savings were in my regular account would I have felt differently accessing or spending it? I'm not sure the answer to that. Me and my money relationship have a long way to go but I have started my journey thanks to thinking about family values.

Our family values have an extraordinary impact on how we live our life. They are the beginning basics of what we feel is important, how we act,  what takes priority and unfortunately sometimes, what we can and cannot have.  Family values are what your family of origin holds as important. These are often multigenerational, a legacy being passed on unknowingly from generation to generation, parents to children and so on.

The uber cool thing is that we can excavate them and upgrade!  Or we can choose to honour the legacy of our forefathers and continue with them. The choice is ours. 

When I sat down to do this, well really it started with my hands in the sink doing dishes and was a bit surprising to me. I was able to clearly identify the values, the beliefs behind them, what they meant, how they related to other important things and how they informed my behaviour. I saw immediately some conflicts of interest between what I had been brought up to value and what I value personally today. I'm in a constant state of conflict in certain areas. 

The dish sink realization went like this:  “What does my family value as important?  Money, and it is used to buy love.  To manipulate people and to hold it over their head.”

That is so not cool...

Now given that those were the first things that came to mind maybe you can see why I haven’t had a good relationship with my bank account?  Money has not felt good to me. It's icky, negative, and I am repulsed by the pursuit of it. It's very superficial. So why would I want to have a relationship with it?  Clearly this is an area where some upgrading was in dire need.


Here is an exercise for exploring the legacy of your family values and an opportunity to upgrade or modernize them.

1. What are the top values of your family?  These are the things that they hold as the most important in life.  They are likely unspoken but very much in physical practice.  

2. Once you’ve figured out the top 3 - 5, elaborate on what each means.  What are the core beliefs behind that value? How does it show up in action?  How does it show up in your life?  ex. If Family is one of the values, what is it about family?  Is it putting family members first no matter what?  Is it related to communication and gatherings?  

3. What is the positive intention behind these values?  How have they positively served you and how are you grateful for it? Is there anything to forgive?  ex. For me and Money, even though how I felt about that value is very negative there were positive intentions behind the pursuit of money and amassing wealth.  I can appreciate that money, and the gifts it buys, is a vehicle that some people use to show their love for me when they are perhaps unable to show me love in another way that I may prefer. It's not necessarily about trying to manipulate me.

4. With the positive intention, gratitude and forgiveness in mind, make a decision: Is this a value that you want to continue to uphold in my life?  Does it need to be upgraded a bit with intentions that are more aligned with who you are now?  Or is it not important anymore and needs to be let go of (with love)?

5. Upgrade as necessary or let go:

Consider how that value can be brought more in alignment with what you find important now or how it can serve you better.  Write a new story for it.  For me and Money, I can embrace the positive intention that money serves to meet my physical needs and keep a roof over my head and I can upgrade to the idea that amassing wealth can be noble if I am using it to support and lift up others.  I can let go of the idea that money is used to manipulate people or buy love, while I understand the positive intentions behind these beliefs, they are no longer relevant in my life going forward and can be lovingly laid to rest.

Let go with Love.  These beliefs and values have been a part of you and your life thus far.  It is important to honour the legacy of your family and their positive intention for your survival in the world.  Writing a letter is a great way to tip your hat to them and lay them to rest.  burn, bury or release in any other way that feels good.

6. Create your new values and the core beliefs behind them that serve your family today and moving forward.  This is a great opportunity to look at your life and determine what really is important to you and to bring them into the family realm if applicable.  If you have kids it might be cool to bring them into this part of the exercise so they can have a hand in shaping the family destiny.


This exercise has been really helpful to me.  All of my family’s values and many of the beliefs behind them are in direct opposition of what I hold as important in my life and business now.  They really are a product of socialization and the development of the modern world that was the hallmark of living through tougher times, and the importance of fitting in for survival.  I love that my parents have upheld them the way that they have, with steadfast loyalty, and that they passed them down to me.  It makes me appreciate my own rebellion so much more, and how conflicted I have felt every step of the way.  Everyday I have been living in opposition of my family of origin and this exercise gives me an opportunity to make peace with who I am on the family identity level and move forward with loving acceptance, and a few upgrades ; )

Peeling back the layers of the onion

I have this habit, its a good one I think, where I write when inspired.  All manner of stuff will suddenly coming pouring out of me and I let it out, trying to capture the essence in the moment, not just a one liner idea.  What happens is me ending up with half written articles and other bits and pieces of brilliance, some of which get used and others don’t.  

This weeks article was me having a moment Tuesday morning, outside in subzero temperature, furiously typing away on my iPhone.  I thought at the time it was brilliant, even if slightly induced by halloween candy blood sugar fluctuation and some serious internal frustration.  Then a couple of days later I was considering going backsies on it and posting something else that was a little more “acceptable”.  Now in front of my deadline I’m wondering what it is I’m going to be reading and if it really was sugar induced neurosis or if it really was me making a stand for speaking my truth.  Here goes…


Where do I start?

In the past year I have begun to embrace a serious belief that there is an order to things that exists on a grand scale, a universal scale in fact.  Yes, I am one of those people who believes that things happen for a reason, usually for our greater development. 

It began as a glimmer of understanding back in November last year when I was prompted to think about what iconic or classic artwork I was inspired by. I love Moroccan/Islamic geometric art. I want to visit Alhambra in Spain so I can see the magnificent Islamic art there that is both so beautiful, purposeful, scientific and orderly. When I thought about it, I got this flash of understanding that this is the way of the universe, beautiful, structured and purposeful. Scientific and poetically beautiful in its function. Everything and everyone has a place in it and a reason. I understood that I had a place in the grand scheme, in the lattice work. Later I received more insight that I am here to help others discover and free themselves so that they too can take their place in the grand scheme as their natural soul expression and thus help to restore the balance to the natural world. 

Yes it was amazingly profound, I don’t know any way to explain it.  How do you explain something that you believe right down to your bones with absolute surety?  It’s faith baby.  

Since this understanding came about I have been confirmed over and over again this year that there is a scheme, for how else can I explain the combination of events and understandings that keep coalescing in perfect order and timing that help me to free myself a little bit more?

I just had another one happen that I feel strongly called to share because it involves me embracing myself and speaking my truth and following my path. I am leading by example in hopes that others might be inspired. I am surrendering to my purpose.


In a nutshell I've been banging up against an invisible wall for a while, not able to get traction and move forward in a couple areas of life, and it came to a culmination where I got to peel back another layer of my metaphorical onion, have a good cry, then move forward with purpose and understanding once more. 

When I took a look at it through a good bout of journalling, it came to me that I haven't been accepting myself. And on closer inspection it came out like this:

I have to manipulate myself, my expression, what I say and do, in order to be accepted. I cannot express myself freely, I must be polished in order to be accepted and for people to listen to me. 

That's some pretty heavy stuff. 

And it’s in direct opposition to what I stand for, which is being able to express who you really are, as nature and the universe intended. You know, like how you did when you were a kid, before you shut down and abandoned your true self. I am here to be a beacon for others, to show the way, to be a leader for expression and freedom… and apparently I have a belief that doesn't even allow myself do it. Hello invisible wall of Nope getting in my way...


I've been trying to re-write my website for a while. Like, months. After I graduated from school in May I started getting a good idea of what I’m here to do, which was not what I had planned or intellectualized previously, and in June I really started to "pull it together".   I was trying to figure out how to market myself and what I'm here for, to make what I offer acceptable somehow. But in trying to figure it out and put it forth in a way that makes sense to others and is “polished and acceptable”, I was turning my back on what I truly believe, which is total freedom of expression.  Wild, untamed, natural, authentic, truth.

No wonder it is so painful inside! No wonder I couldn't seem to make any movement forward. No wonder I didn't feel called to go out and meet people and talk about it. No wonder I never knew what to say when people asked me what I do. Having to manipulate my message to be acceptable to the masses is perpetuating the problem I am here to work against.


By the way, this is what I do:

I help women get free from the crap that holds them back from connecting with and expressing their true selves and getting what they want.  I also help women navigate their lives connected to their souls with an emphasis on seeing to self first.


The whole point is to get out of the socialized and intellectualized world that has us wrapped up and living in something that isn't real. Striving for something that isn't real. Or put in a box that makes sense and conforms.

The whole point is to get your soul free so that you can be who you really are, unapologetically. 

It's also about reconnecting to your body and the natural world. We manufacture everything now. Our food is made by man and serves to make us Ill, to reject our bodies. The solution is another man made thing: a pill. If we just reconnected and listened to our bodies we wouldn't be in this situation but we've been conditioned to reject our body, our intuition, and common sense. We've lost our way. 

One of the biggest learnings I've made this year, also through divine timing and coincidence, is that the body keeps score of our psychic imbalances. My own healing has been in the emotional realm, it was never about what was “wrong with me physically” although I have certainly not helped in that arena. But my addiction issues had everything to do with past trauma. My inability to do what I needed to do, even on a basic personal hygiene level had everything to do with trauma and limiting beliefs like that one I just uncovered. What is the man made answer to trauma?  A pill that does nothing but mask symptoms, an illusion for feeling better that creates a whole other host of problems. 

The ancient cultures used to value self exploration and improvement but we have turned out back on it. We have turned away from what is real in order to be entertained. To distract ourselves from reality. 


What are you distracting yourself from?  What are you not willing to face?  Is it the reality that you are unhappy? Maybe that you are unable to embrace yourself and be yourself without censure?  

I can tell you without a doubt that I have been running from so many things.  Even this morning (Friday) I found another one: that there must be something wrong with me if my mother was unable to love me.  My adult self knows and understands more now than my childhood self that made up that belief, but unless we stop running and turn to face ourselves, to look inside and upgrade these beliefs we will never truly be at peace and free to be ourselves.

The journey to true self expression does not occur overnight. It is many layered like an onion. But with each layer you peel back, with each veil you pull away from your eyes and your heart, you get closer to who you really are. You are able to embrace yourself, to fully accept yourself and understand the real truth: that there never was anything wrong with you in the first place.


This summer I got another one of those divine understandings about how to consciously go about it. There is a process for navigating life, not only your day to day, but also this journey towards self that I've been doing it all my life unconsciously. But since I got that understanding of how it all fit together, now I do it consciously and with purpose..

The shame is that I've been totally hung up on how to reveal it to the world and market it in a way that is “polished”, “acceptable”, “makes sense” and "that sells". But absolutely nothing has felt right about what I've attempted to do. Just like my website that I can't figure out how to write. Nothing feels right when I try to manipulate it, but I'm scared that it won’t be accepted in it’s truth.

Well enough of that…  It's time to be real.  To bust out and be wild, untamed, raw, natural, pure expression.  Unapologetically me.


OK, that wasn’t so bad.  Nothing like onion peeling to get you back to yourself and what really matters.  The more you practice, the more you get into reality and connected to who you really are and what you really want.  I can’t tell you how much I have received since I surrendered to that process of self inquiry, it’s been amazing.  Since Tuesday I have been a well of inspiration again so hopefully I will have some more honest truth for you and a new website shortly. 

<3 Melinda

Embracing your Dark Side

The path to healing the body is different for everyone.  For various reasons when things are going wrong in life or don’t feel right we gravitate towards “fixing” ourselves physically, it’s a way of controlling the outcome of life.  I was no different.  

What many of us don’t realize is that the path to healing isn’t always a physical one.  There may not need to be a diet change, small or large. You may not need to start going to the gym to work off any excess pounds.  You may not need to go to a specialist and have a battery of tests done or take any drugs to correct anything.  Those vague and often unexplainable physical symptoms that you are feeling may not have to do with anything physical, the answer may lie in a completely different direction.  This has been my lesson this year.

In the last few years my health really tanked despite all my efforts to care for myself and educate myself on how best to go about it.  I just kept feeling worse and worse, I was steadily gaining weight, I stopped being able to sleep through the night, I had constant eczema, always with the aches and pains and the mechanical problems with my hip steadily worsened no matter what specialist I saw or what I did.  There were all kinds of other symptoms too, too many to count in fact.  It got to a point last year where I was so miserable and I looked so miserable that I started taking a picture of my face every morning because I looked like total crap, I looked totally sick.  At that point I had more or less finished my education as a nutritionist, I knew a lot of stuff about the body and had some decent ideas of what was wrong with me.  I ended up joining a gut healing program that had me go one a very hardcore food and supplement regime that was possibly one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, but I was so convinced I needed to fix my physical body I was willing to do anything.  I lasted 2 weeks… maybe.  In some respects ended up worse than before, I went into a depressive state and completely lost my appetite and interest in food.  The whole miserable experience lead me toreally question what I believed about food and health and what was really important.  And what lengths I thought was acceptable for a person to go in order to fix themselves.

It is amazing what we will do to ourselves out of fear.  Out of a need to fix ourselves.  I needed that experience to be ready to learn a whole heck of a lot of lessons this year, and the one I want to talk about today is that the path to healing is often an inside job.  At the end of the day what was “wrong” with me had to do with something I was ignoring.  Something inside of me that existed in the shadow realm, the dark side of me.

The dark side of us is a messy and scary place.  Full of all the things that we would rather not know about, would rather not acknowledge as part of us.  Our darkest thoughts live there.  The scary bits about ourselves.  The ugly bits... This is where we stuff the emotions that we refuse to acknowledge or refuse to deal with. This is where our rage, our sadness, our confusion, our sense of unfairness and everything else we don’t embrace hides.  This is where all our unshed tears hide.  Where the stuff we deem unacceptable to society is as well.

I’ve talked before about social conditioning and the pursuit of the idealized self.  This is what has most of us looking externally for the answers or for a fix.  It also has a massive part to play in us creating our shadow self or dark side as we learn that certain emotions, thoughts or behaviours are not acceptable in society.  We stop emoting in many ways, but those emotions are real and they don’t just disappear.  If you felt disappointed about something that disappointment lingers on in the body.  I heard a quote recently that was brilliant: The body keeps score, and it always wins.”  It keeps score by holding on to all those emotions, all that dark stuff you are ignoring and it wins by beginning to fall apart as it reaches capacity to hold onto that psychic energy. 

Where are you segregating yourself or ignoring a less savoury side of yourself?  That less polished side of you, that holds your fears, doubts, anger, sadness… I hate to break it to you but it is still a part of you and part of life.  The human experience is not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.  It sucks.  It’s full of emotions that we would rather not have, but they are still a part of us.

The effects of ignoring parts of ourselves and suppressing them are very real.  There is a lot of material about it that people ignore because it’s not always logical or scientific to the more cerebral of us.  For my part it took somewhat of a leap of faith to embrace my dark side.  Sure I had read, even studied, about the physical effects of emotional stress in the body.  I started my education on the subconscious and behavioural patterns back in 2012 but it wasn’t until this year that I really started to accept and take a look at my own dark side.

I was just flipping through my journal from this year last week and it fell open to this entry I made on May 6th where I took my first steps to looking at and embracing the stuff I didn't want to face.  I openly admitted to not wanting to write anything negative in my journal in that entry, despite knowing that writing was my number one way of processing stuff that was troubling me.  For whatever reason, I had never liked the idea of having a negative diary or one that I only wrote upsetting stuff in, but there I was openly acknowledging that I was segregating and rejecting parts of myself by refusing to write about anything negative I may have been feeling in my book.  By only writing about the good stuff I was rejecting my dark side, but I didn’t want to have a separate book just for the bad stuff…  I was/am a whole person and not two people, why should I have two books?  The last line I wrote in that entry was: help me, my soul is sad and lost.  Yeah, that was for real, that was me embracing what most of us would rather not acknowledge the reality of.

The result of that tentative first step was me processing emotions, releasing anger, and ultimately ( just less than a month ago) uncovering a repressed memory of childhood sexual abuse.  Suddenly a good 80% of my struggles in life make sense!  Now that I am aware of it and have fully embraced this trauma, I have felt more at peace with myself than I ever have in my entire life.  The rewards of this far outstrip the pain. I credit my ability to take it in stride and not become a victim or a complete mess (there were definitely some messy days) to my steadfast commitment to look at the shadows and to shine the light of my attention in there.  Once I made a commitment to face the ugly stuff, to release that which I was ignoring conciously or unconsciously, to feel the full force of everything, I became whole.  I was embracing all of myself, light side and dark side.  And my gut stopped hurting and relaxed.  And whatever lingering malfunction I was experiencing in my hip just magically went away as if I didn’t just spend the last 5 years in misery…  


Every time I looked at, acknowledged or released some of my dark side this year, I felt emptier in a way that is hard to describe.  Physically, my constant chest constriction and chest pains vanished, my breathing became easier and deeper.  The lump in my throat all but disappeared, my back pain lessened.  My anxiety started to go down as well and not totally rule me.  I began to have feelings of peace, my happiness increased and I began to have amazing flashes of inspiration and intuition.  I became a little more spontaneous and I dare say, more fun to be around.  I think the best part is that I began to feel whole again, in a way I never did before, simply because I was looking at and accepting that which I was hiding.

This didn’t all happen over night. I’d say it was a good 5 months of continually recognizing when I was feeling less than happy, flagging the flashes of memory that needed to be looked at closer and released, recognizing when the anxiety was cranked up high and constantly surrendering to the emotion.  It wasn’t easy in the beginning because I am a lifelong bottler of everything and we are oh so good at kinda telling ourselves “later” because we are too busy, but it became easier and easier as I just surrendered to it or at the very least made a promise to get to it later and kept that promise. It is now on my daily agenda to chill out with myself for a bit and to look at what I might have hiding or what needs to be felt.  The more I do this, the better and lighter I feel.  The more joy I experience.  The more spacer possibility I have.

Each person is unique.  What you may be feeling now and what relief you may get will likely be different from mine but make no mistake, you will feel different, better in fact.  The road to healing is not always where you think it should be.  It’s not always about something physical or measurable.  Embracing your dark side leads to greater emotional health.  Traumas that are being held in your body can be dealt with and released.  Vague aches and pains, digestive difficulties, addictive behaviours, anxiety, and so much more may miraculously disappear.  You may begin to express yourself more freely where before you would have held yourself back.  All it takes is a commitment to look at the tough stuff, that stuff you would rather ignore.  To look at it, excavate it, truly feel it and let it go.  When you make space, you are allowing the potential for greater happiness to come in instead of just creating a world almost exclusively of dark emotions that become your physical and mental reality.


“We are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole.”

                        ~Jane Fonda


If you want some good resources for processing emotions or are interested in knowing where to start on your own path to healing hit me up: or check out your local resources.  There are places you can call for free with people who will just sit there and listen to you.  In Calgary call 211 and they will hook you up with the right resource.


Exploring your roles in relationships

If you feel like you have to be everything for everyone in your life and you are drained or burnt out: this article is for you.  If you are a woman you should probably read it, just cause.  If you are a guy, hang tight, it's absolutely applicable to you as well.

Sometimes it is difficult being a female.  Aside from the monthly physical bit that is… We are relationship oriented, we are hardwired to work in community with the goal of group harmony in mind and it is our nature to operate on a much more emotional level.  The hard part is that we tend to derive part of our identity from the relationships that we operate in.  Mother to child, wife to husband, friend to friend.  We become our relationships and can lose our sense of self as we strive to support harmony inour relationships and the greater community.  And we have a bit of a habit of becoming everything for everyone.  

When you add in the socialization aspect of growing up and learning our place in the world and how to operate accordingly, the subsequent blurring of identity and rejection of self makes it even harder for us to hold onto who we really are. 

Collaborator, creative muse, problem solver, connector, mediator, peacekeeper, nurturer, lover, listener, wife, sister, mother, auntie, advice giver…. how many roles do you play for the people around you that you are in relationship with? 

In my own pursuit of self I realized I was trying to be everything for everyone and had no boundaries to contain my energy or help maintain my sense of identity. I poured all my energy into whatever was occupying my mind at the time.  And I don’t mean just physical energy but my emotions and mental energy as well. I didn’t know how to disconnect.  Gosh I was even doing it last night, lying awake thinking about how I could help someone whom I hadn’t even met.

Once I started the process of separating myself from my business I understood it a bit more clearly.  First of all, I am not what I do.  I am not my business.  I am not my relationships. I am a separate entity.  Then I got further profound insight when a family member that I hadn’t spoken to in over 3 years came back into my life.  

I had originally separated from my family in order to step back and deal with myself.  Now that this family member was back in my life (for all of 24 hours at this point), suddenly this pattern of behaviour started playing out again (including the lying in bed at night consumed with that person) and I immediately recognized that this was something I did not want to happen. I started thinking about how I could protect myself from spiralling out and losing my sense of self in this relationship.  This led to me to consider what kind of a relationship I wanted to have with him going forward and what roles I really wanted to play since I saw myself falling into roles for which I am not responsible.  I am not his mother, his doctor, his nutritionist, his coach, or his therapist.  This lead me to also consider how I wanted to act towards him.  How I wanted the relationship to feel.  What he might expect of me.

How often do we step back and consider our relationships with others this way?  It seems pretty cerebral to evaluate our roles with people in this manner, but not only was it fascinating to me, it was profoundly helpful as I started to consider my relationships with others.  What role I was playing out and what role I was casting the other person in.  This can be, and was for me, a doorway for healing and happiness.  An opportunity to get more out of your relationships than you were getting before.  The roles that you play ultimately dictate how you feel in the relationship.  If you feel like your husbands mother, there is a pretty good chance that you are acting like his mother.  So how would you like to feel instead?

So here is my exercise for creating boundaries to manage your energy and set expectations for yourself in your relationships.

  1. Consider in an ideal world what kind of roles that you would be playing with a particular person.  For example lets consider two people in a committed relationship, what roles would a woman have in that relationship?   Companion, lover, friend, confidante, supporter... And what roles would the man have?
  2. What are the roles that you are currently playing with that person (What are you to them?) Be honest here!  This is how you are actually acting. For our example a woman might not be playing the right roles at all, she may be filling in as: supporter, caretaker, mother, cleaning lady, fixer/therapist...
  3. What are the roles that you perceive they are playing for you (what are they to you?) Another chance to be honest, these are the roles you are casting them in and how you subsequently act towards them. Our example woman might be casting her man as a: provider, authoritarian, father, responsible for her happiness and self esteem...
  4. How are you acting towards them in relationship to the roles you should optimally be playing?  Are you fulfilling the right roles or are you playing as something else?  Our example is not fulfilling her role of companion, lover, confidante, friend, supporter? 
  5. And finally, make a decision about what roles you are willing to play going forward, how you will treat them. Make a commitment to align with these roles.

Bonus: communicate with the other person and gain agreement together about what you will be for each other.  

I actually did this with my family member and the most amazing things came out of it.  I verbally stuck up for myself in a way I had never done before by stating what I was and wasn't going to do in order to support my own energy and sense of identity. I got agreement from him to let me know when I was going out of bounds, which is in further support of me.  We also had an open dialogue about what we wanted and expected out of the relationship with each other.   It almost sounds like we entered into some  business agreement but how refreshing!  I feel safe and secure that I will not lose myself, I will not cross any lines with myself or with him, I can stick to the assignments without having to anticipate what is needed from me or what I might have to do.  It's liberating to know that I get to take a load off and not be everything for this person, I get to be... just me.  


Have you ever gone thorough something like this?  I would love to hear about it if you have.