Today is the final day of a 10 week marketing programme I have been on. I initially wanted to write a comment on our group Facebook page to share all that I have learnt during the course until it dawned on me just how much my life and my thinking has been transformed over the past 18 months.
At the start of the week I attended a talk by Nick Williams, founder of Inspired Entrepreneurs. The talk was entitled The Work You Were Born to Do. During the talk, Nick asked us what inspires us and what we really want to do. The following day I became clear that I wanted to make a positive difference to young people and their emotional well-being. As I have always worked with young people in some capacity (even mentoring in my corporate days), this made complete sense.
Discovering my purpose
I then started drafting a blog post about discovering your purpose, after which I saw two blog posts on the same subject written by ladies whose blogs I follow. I started to ask myself some of the questions they had asked and that I had also asked in my own blog post. I considered what difference I wanted to make to the world. What difference did I want to make to every single person I come into contact with? What did I want to give each person? Then it dawned on me.
I want to inspire people to be happy and at peace with themselves and their lives.
Not only do I want others to be happy and at peace with themselves and their lives, I want it for myself too. I realise this is my ultimate goal in life.
The purpose of this post is to share a little bit about what I have learned and the things that helped me to gain this clarity.
Although when I think about it, my whole life has been a journey and everything that has happened in my life has determined where I’m at today, this part of the transformation all started about 18 months ago. After going through some family issues (that have been ongoing my entire life in one way or another) I realised that energetically I was done. I had nothing left to give. I could no longer be everything to everyone. It was time for me to take off the superhero cape and call it a day. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I took a giant and actually very painful step back from everyone in my life and retreated into myself. Everything that wise people had told me over the years about saying no, putting boundaries in place and giving up my role as a “rescuer” were ringing in my ears loud and clear.
We all play a role in life. Some of us inherit that role and make it our own. Others create it out of necessity to deal with certain challenges in life.
After 30 odd years, my role had left me empty and it was time for me to step out of the role I had inherited and really discover who the real Leanne was underneath it all. It was a challenge both for me and the people in my life that were used to me in that role. It was also hard for me to be honest with myself, take responsibility for what I wanted for my life and challenge many of the beliefs I had followed blindly all my life, that no longer worked for me and that in fact kept me in such an uncomfortable place for so long.
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” ~Dolly Parton
A personal retreat
I took a break from coaching and spent lots of time alone – reading, baking, learning to make candles, watching films, listening to music, swimming, drawing and getting curious about life. I spent less time having pointless conversations via instant messenger and limited my time on the phone and on social media. When I described it to a friend, I said it was like a personal retreat.
I’ve always been very independent so being on my own wasn’t too bad. What was difficult was saying no to people. I no longer wanted to go clubbing or to bars (in all honesty I’ve never liked the experience but it was the “social” thing to do in my group of friends), I gave up drinking alcohol and I no longer wanted to spend time around people with negative energy – no matter who they were. This image I saw on Facebook is an excellent summary.
Some people didn’t get it and others took it personally. I still didn’t have the energy to explain. I needed this time for me and if I didn’t take it, my life would have gone back to the way it had always been. Or should I say I would have gone back to playing my role dutifully but in pain.
“Some people say you are going the wrong way, when it’s simply a way of your own.” ~ Angelina Jolie
One day I asked myself “If it was just me, on my own in the world could I live with it?” The answer was yes. This may sound odd but it was such a powerful revelation for me. What this meant is that I could choose who to spend my time with and really be me and that I no longer had to please everyone. If no-one in the world ever wanted to “be my friend” or “like” me, I could still survive. Of course, that said, I’d still much prefer to spend my life with people I love, people who inspire me, people who are happy and optimistic and people who accept me without my role.
Intuition and indecision
The next significant thing that happened is that I attended a session to get back in touch with my intuition. For years, I’d been indecisive, trying to not to upset or offend anyone and trying to avoid getting or doing anything “wrong”. This meant that I didn’t even know I had intuition!The lady running the session took us through some activities that not only proved that my intuition was definitely still going strong, she also taught us simple techniques we could use and that I now use all the time.
I realised that my indecision was mainly due to a conflict between what I wanted/needed deep down and my commitment to being a “good”, reliable person, ensuring I was always available to everyone and that their needs were being met.
Now however, being able to tap into my intuition, I feel confident embracing my true self and the self-doubt has been reducing slowly. I also find it much easier to make decisions!
What happened next?
I then started to wear my hair natural in it’s natural curly state. From the age of 14 until the age of 29 I had my hair chemically straightened every 3 months. I stopped aged 29 but I still wore it straight all the time. To some it may not sound like a big deal but wearing my hair naturally curly really challenged my identity. It changed my reflection, the way clothes looked on me and initially attracted a lot of attention and comments.
One thing I have always struggled with is being centre of attention. I have a very big bubbly personality but I hate being in the limelight and although I don’t like to go with the crowd and hate doing what everyone else is doing, at the same time I like to do my own thing quietly in the background. In fact, over the past few months, a couple have suggested that despite my energetic personality, I am probably an introvert.
Wearing my hair naturally and now this marketing course have forced me to be open to attention. I am now blogging and sending out a newsletter (which you can sign up to below) on a weekly basis and speaking to you authentically as me. Previously I thought I had to speak in a certain way to come across as being professional, even though I wasn’t comfortable with it.
Until this part of my life journey, I always felt that I had to look a certain way to be taken seriously. Having straight hair, wearing high heels and really dressy outfits. I hate wearing heels. Don’t get me wrong, I love how feminine they make me feel, however I hate the pain they cause and also I never feel 100% comfortable in them. I have always been a bit of a tomboy and I much prefer to wear trainers, plimsoles and brogues. However, because despite being in my thirties, I am almost always mistaken for being in my late teens/early twenties and wearing my hair naturally with skinny jeans and trainers means I am often mistaken for even younger! My sister is 19 and people regularly as us if we’re twins!
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is something I really struggled with until recently. Now I figure people spend a bucket load of money on anti-aging products and I am naturally youthful. Similarly my hair is extremely thick and some days I struggle to manage it in it’s natural state but again, some people pray each day for thicker hair. So now I’m embracing my youthful looks and my naturally thick locks (that I’m still figuring out how to manage). The people who I’m supposed to attract into my life will come because I’m embracing myself as whole and complete, which hopefully means more meaningful, authentic connections.
Why am I writing this post now?
I’m writing this post now because I feel like all the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. I am happier and more at peace with myself than I’ve ever been. I am learning to trust myself and life more and more each day and now I really get the contribution I want to make to the world.
I have also recently discovered some really amazing people who have inspired me. Firstly Corrina Gordon-Barnes who runs the marketing programme I have been on. Her programme, her knowledge and her support has given me the confidence to be myself in the world and my business and to really share with you who I really am, as well as understand that who I really am in the world is important for you and where you are at in your journey.
Finally, Courtney Saunders over at Think and Grow Chick for me is an inspiring example of a woman communicating authentically and being true to herself and her vision (whilst rocking her natural hair). In fact, this blog post by Courtney (combined with these 2 websites – Into Mind and Darling Magazine) inspired me to review my wardrobe and I now feel like my clothes and my outfits reflect me and not only am I comfortable in my clothes, I also feel happy and confident in them.
It’s been one hell of a journey so far
However it’s also been incredible. I am so happy that I have been open to transformation and to the opportunities and possibilities life has presented to me.
Despite the transformation so far, there are still many areas of my life I want to transform. Here are just a few:
– I don’t drink nearly enough
water fluid. I almost only drink water, that’s not the problem. The problem is that I generally don’t feel thirsty and therefore I just don’t drink enough.
– I don’t
exercise stretch enough. If I’m honest not exercising enough doesn’t bother me. I love to swim and when the weather is mild, I swim a couple of times a week. Now that my hair is natural I’m not concerned about it getting wet. However if it’s cold outside, forget it! I have accepted that I’m like a bear and as long I live in London, I will hibernate in the Winter months because that’s what I need to do to feel at peace. I do however need to stretch – even more so in the winter months. My body needs it and I am not committed – other than attending my Pilates class twice a week.
– I procrastinate. I find it too easy to put off the things I don’t want to do or perceive as being hard, but that are actually important.
– I am not fearless enough and I still have limited thinking at times. Don’t get me wrong I have grown so much in this area, but there’s still a long way to go.
– I still feel guilty saying no to certain people to put my needs first. Another area where I have grown strong but still have a lot of growth to make.
A work in progress
As you can see, all of the areas I have mentioned above are things that I can work on each day and that I can make progress in. The key is that I have recognised them and quit making myself wrong and bad for not having perfected any of them.
As the title implies, I’m on a journey. I’m far from a perfectly polished human. This is just one chapter in my life and I am sure there will be many more to come with their highs and lows.
I finally get that life is a journey and I am the only companion I can be sure of to be there for the entire duration so I better make damn sure that I am happy and at peace with myself and that I really like myself and my company!
I hope that by sharing my story with you, I have inspired you in some way and encouraged you to discover and accept your true self.
Until next time,
Be fearless, be authentic, be unapologetic!
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