The Two Moments That Changed Everything

 
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THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL LIFE

By the time I was thirty years old, I was married to a great guy, we had an incredible little girl, we lived in a huge apartment in New York, I had a fantastic job that I was really good at…essentially, I had all of the things that I had worked so hard for (and all of the things that I was taught would make me happy).

And yet, there were times when I felt like: This is not my life. Now, I don’t mean: This life is so great, I don’t deserve it – though I certainly felt that at times. Instead I felt like: This is a beautiful life; it’s just not the life that was meant for me.

Growing up, I was acutely aware of the world and the role that I was supposed to play in it. I paid attention, I played my part, and I excelled at everything that I put my mind to. But it was almost like I was a character in a play – externally I played the part to fit into my surroundings, but the person inside didn’t fit in. It was like I was split in two – the external me and the internal me – and while the external me seemed to thrive, the internal me felt abandoned.

I remember it was right after my daughter’s second birthday party, I was in the kitchen doing the dishes, and something hit me, and I knew: This was not my life; this was a life crafted by external expectations. There was nothing particularly significant about that moment. (I have certainly done dishes a thousand times since.) However, in that moment I realized that I was putting a tremendous amount of time and effort into building a life that was not feeding me. I was trying to find ways to make myself happy or find small outlets for my inner me to express herself, within the confines of the life that I had created. There was nothing at all “wrong” with my life, my husband, my apartment, my job…they just didn’t reflect the complexity, creativity, passion, and breadth that was a part of who I was deep inside. And so, they were wrong for me.

I had no idea what kind of life was meant for me – but I knew that I had to find out.

That moment led to some difficult conversations with my husband (who, as it turns out, was also feeling unfulfilled). I loved him - and still do; however after 13 years together he was not the person who was going to partner me through the next iteration of my life. And similarly, I was not the person who could walk down the path that he needed to go. We decided to go our separate ways and have crafted a beautiful friendship and co-parenting relationship. And I went about the work of figuring out who I really was and what I wanted out of life.

MY INNER CRITIC

After a lot of self-work, I eventually got remarried – this time to an amazing woman who was in pursuit of personal growth just as much as I was. I lived in a neighborhood that I loved, excelled at a job that was important to me, changed my parenting style from preparing my daughter for the world to preparing her to know herself deeply in the world – and overall, I was really happy. And then everything changed.

Within a two-month span, I found out that my position was being eliminated after over a decade of work and that emotional infidelity had crept its way into my relationship. I felt blindsided. I thought that I was living my best life, and it felt like it was taken away from me. After months of trying to wrap my mind around what happened, I found myself sitting on the floor in my pajamas one day and again realizing that I needed to regain control of my life.

I had gone from leading large teams and managing multimillion-dollar budgets, to feeling overwhelmed by the idea of doing the dishes and the laundry all in one day. From thriving in a relationship where autonomy was prioritized, to following my wife around like a sad puppy. From feeling in control, to feeling lost. The earthquake which rocked my life unleashed inner demons that began to undermine my sense of self.

During the first life-changing moment, there was nothing really wrong – I just felt a pull towards something different and bigger. This second time, everything felt like it was wrong – and instead of being pulled, I had to push myself up and into the next chapter of my life.

I soon found that I was up against an insidious advisory: my own thoughts. There was an inner critic that continued to nag me. This voice was different than the one I heard years earlier; it was cruel and cutting. The deep whisper that first prompted my journey told me that I was meant for more, this voice said that I was not enough. And while the only way for me to hear that soft original whisper was to be still and quiet within myself, this unyielding voice followed me wherever I went.

Once again, I set forth on my path; one that would require me to listen and cry and scream and speak and write and draw and sit and fight. In time, I understood that the inner voice of self-doubt was driven by fear. Fear of being unlovable, fear of not living up to my potential, fear of wanting too much, and fear that the inner me could never have a place in the world.  

Instead of suppressing the fear, I confronted it. Through personal work, coaching, creative expression, and time, I was able to connect to my inner self once more. I realized that though I had crafted a life that was more authentic to who I was, I had been limiting myself as a result of my judgement and fears. The truth was that I was capable of deeper impact in my work and deeper connection in my relationship; however before the earthquake my inner critic kept me blind to that truth. As painful as that second moment was in my life, it freed me to explore who I was and what I was capable of without external or internal restrictions.

After over a year of focused work, I found a self that was not regulated by external expectations or a negative internal narrative, and since then I have been doing the work to keep her as close to the surface possible.

CRAFTING YOUR PATH

As I spoke with my female friends and coaching clients, I began to find the same patterns in their stories. It appeared that women, in particular, were in the struggle to figure out who they were and what they wanted out of life beneath the layers of external expectations and internal self-doubt and fear.

What I heard from the women around me was that…

  • they worked really hard to fit into external expectations and craft lives that were expected of them

  • they felt like something was missing, but simultaneously felt tortured by an internal critic that was proclaimed that “they were not enough” and could not achieve their inner vision

  • some felt like their lives were pretty good, others felt like they were in the midst of turmoil, but all felt like they were not in tune enough with themselves enough to know – deeply know – how to navigate through the next stages of their life

And so through my conversations with these women, my experiences raising a daughter, and my work on myself – Crafting Your Path was born.

The goal of the work is to help women…

  • ensure that they really know who they are and what they want out of life, love, career, friendship, and more

  • create a discipline of tapping into that inner knowing so that they can stay the course and make decisions that align with who they are

  • navigate through times of transition – a break up, birthday, graduation, job change, new city – or any difficult situation that prompts anxiety, fear, or indecision

  • know and be known in relationships; be open and vulnerable enough to let the important people in their lives really know who they are, and to support close ones with in their authenticity journey

We do that through content, resources, and community – with a simultaneous focus on what moves you deeply and what lights you up. It’s as individual as it is collective. It’s bred from struggles that seem siloed and independent, and extrapolated out to the whole. We rise in community and shared stories. We incorporate diverse experiences. We are here for younger women and older women; those who are new to personal growth and those who have read every self-help book on the shelf.

If you believe that you are meant for more, if you are ready to go deep, if you want to craft a path that is as important and unique as you are…then you have come to the right place.

PLOT YOUR ROADMAP

To craft next steps for your path, consider the following exercises. Do them all or choose one that moves you:

  • Identify your needs. Use the Fuel Gauge activity to outline the most significant areas in your life and identify how you are being filled and where there are gaps. You can also begin by thinking about what you want in your life by completing the Vision for My Best Life resource. (Use the comments section to share your discoveries and speak to others about the steps they are taking to fill their tank.)

  • Reflect. Create time to be quiet with yourself. Sit silently and think about your responses to the Fuel Gauge activity or pose a question to yourself and listen for an answer. Whether you sit for five minutes or twenty, try to carve out time each day to ask yourself “how do I feel?” and “what do I want?”

  • Battle your inner critic. Meet your thoughts with curiosity instead of fear or judgement. Try to avoid labeling your desires. We often get caught up in judging our wants as unrealistic, selfish, decadent, deviant, or impossible. Listen for and write down your thoughts, and then explore each desire with a mindset of curiosity instead of judgement, fear, or disapproval.

  • Identify support. Find a coach who can help you sort through your thoughts, clarify your vision, and support you through your next steps down that path. There are resources available via CYP as well as many in-person and online coaches who are skilled at helping people make sense of their thoughts and create an actionable plan towards their vision.

  • Connect. Speak with friends and loved ones about your journey. Identify people who you trust and who are engaged in their own personal development, and talk with them about your awarenesses and the work that you are doing to move towards your authentic self. You will likely find that you are not the only one on this journey, and will hopefully build a community of cheerleaders who will support you on your path. And remember, we are also here to help! Come to an event or join the conversation online to meet other women who are in pursuit of their best lives.

To hear more details about my story, including how my life was impacted by external expectations, how I fought with my inner demons to overcome my personal earthquake, and how I continue to be on the path towards my best and most authentic life, subscribe to Crafting Your Path for free. Each month you will hear more about my story and the lessons I have learned, as well as insights, tips, and vulnerable storytelling from a variety of women who are all working intentionally to craft their unique path in life.