Lately, I’ve been…
broken apart. Vulnerable. Burnt out.
Finding my way by bumping into stone.
Stumbling on to my knees.
And sometimes it hurts
but then I think
it’s easier to pray from down here.
Easier to inspect the earth from close up.
Easier to be instead of do.
It’s a holy kind of humbling.
It’s been a recurring theme for me over the last year.
It’s kind of like I invited all this brilliant new insights + collaborations + partnerships in…
All of which have brought me SO much joy. SO much creative ecstasy. SO much power.
And they’ve tested me and forced me to grow as well.
Besides, from down here…
The teachers come gently in.
And I go to bed with such a full, grateful heart…
tender at this much love, this much insight.
Now, more than ever,
I feel completely seen for all my parts:
not just the brilliant
but the fuck ups and the fears and the anger and the sorrow too.
I’m getting translucent in all the miraculous parts of me, but most of all, the human parts of me.
I am still loved.
How is THAT possible?
I hope this makes sense.
I hope I’m not being too opaque. Too poetic.
I will try anyway.
Knowing I probably won’t get it right this first time
but if I start talking about it,
maybe the stories will weave themselves into a tapestry
maybe I will get better at this
maybe I will see it all the more clearly.
Maybe it will make more sense in my head.
Most of all, I just want to remember.
Remember these moments when I have been taught.
Shown where I need to heal.
And loved every single step of the way.
It started with Brené.
For years I refused to read her work.
I thought I didn’t have shame.
I thought I was beyond all that.
I accidentally listened to Gifts of Imperfection on Audible.
It might have been incomprehensible to me if I’d read it on a page.
But through words,
as I rode my exercise bike,
as I did school pickups,
through words I got it.
What I got most of all was this:
A woman came up to Brené and said:
I don’t think I have any shame.
Let me guess… you’re a high achieving woman. You make happen whatever you want to happen.
You don’t feel shame because you spend your life running from it. If you’re perfect enough, if you do enough, you won’t ever have to feel shame. So you actually are more concerned about shame than anyone else. You just spend your life successfully running from it.
FUCK FUCK FUCK.
I felt immediately seen, singled out. My game was up.
I had a minor breakdown.
When Chris or Grant would ask me what was wrong, I could only respond with tears and sobs and
“I’ve spent my whole life hustling for self worth!”
I spent an amount of time bitching out Brené for giving me the contagion of her breakdown.
“WHAT A BIIIIITCH! SHE COULDN’T KEEP HER BREAKDOWN TO HERSELF! GODDAMN IT! NOW I HAVE CAUGHT IT TOO!”
(I should say here that OBVIOUSLY I am a ridic Brené fangirl. But damn, was breakdown-me pisssssssssssssed for having my game found out.)
It ended up getting so bad that I didn’t feel like I could pull myself out of the spiral.
I went and consulted those two sage blokes in my life… my darling husbo Chris and my General Manager/Creative Playmate Grant.
Usually those two can sort me out. I’m bloody lucky to have such wise souls surrounding me in life and biz.
This time though, I think Chris and Grant were somewhat relieved they could hand me back and forth to each other.
They’d give it a red hot go at listening and helping and gently coaching.
But that spot inside me was still so tender and raw I couldn’t be helped.
I did what I could only do next. I called Hiro.
She said in that sing-song voice of hers:
Tell me what is going on with you, Leonie.
I answered in a tumble of words:
I’ve just been hustling for worth MY WHOLE LIFE. That’s all I’ve EVER DONE!
Is that really true, Leonie?
I insisted it was. I was tremulous and teary.
Is it really true that every part of you has hustled for self worth? Every single one of your inner selves?
I sat, and I felt in my body.
No, you’re right. It’s just some of them. Some of my younger selves.
We sat in silence for a moment. My body softened.
Yes, that’s right my love. Some of you might have held that belief. But there are so many parts of you that have not. Parts of you that have celebrated and loved and adored every part of you, and known your right place in this world.
It’s important you don’t say all of yourself does. It’s important not to dramatise and catastrophise things. Otherwise you feel scared and shaky, like your whole world has been uprooted.
My body softened more.
And we sat in that truth for a little while.
A sacred circle.
Not just any circle, either.
The same circle I was initiated into 12 years ago.
Same leader, same beautiful women. As familiar to me as sisters.
My heart could hardly contain the mystical homecoming.
I was thrown open with grief about how dearly I had missed this. Missed them. Missed circle.
Missed the space where I could be myself, truly.
Speak my whole truth and nothing but the truth.
And be loved and listened to.
“I’ve been motherless for four years”, I said, cupping the talking stone close to my cheek.
“It got to the point where it was too hard, too broken, too toxic to allow contact with my mother.
I knew then… I know now… that she loves me. And that I love her. Deeply.
But I couldn’t give up myself for her anymore. I couldn’t be bulldozed or controlled anymore.
I couldn’t live a boundary-less life anymore.
I couldn’t live a life with boundaries that were disrespected, ignored, trampled on anymore.
I couldn’t do it to my children. I couldn’t do it to my husband.
I couldn’t do it to me.
And so I learned to mother myself.
Learned how to tend to myself.
I forgot that other people had mothers, or what that might even mean.
And it’s been a long journey, and I’m tired.
I’m going to fill my well again.”
Bee comes up to me after circle closes.
Bee, that tiny fairy with the largest heart, a courage that is barely contained in her tiny frame topped with a wild brown mane.
Bee is pregnant now. Not just pregnant, but 9 months pregnant.
She is Empress, Mother, Full Moon.
It was her due date.
She pulled me into her arms. Curled me up against her chest.
“You just need to be held, my lovely,”
“It’s been too long since you’ve been held like this.”
I nod, curling up small in the arms of the Great Mother incarnate.
She holds me like that for a long long time, and I feel the gentle nudge of her baby into me.
A call with Grant and Sonya.
Two of my dearest friends who just happen to be the managers in my company.
Our friendship journey and personal growth journey interweaves intrinsically into the very DNA of how we do business together.
We are talking strategy and positions and budgets for the coming year.
And, as always, we are talking about our most vulnerable fears, feelings, hopes, insights as we go. Because it’s all a part of this.
How do I not get stressed out at work? How do I make sure I don’t take that stress out on my staff and micro manage?
And in a lightningbolt, Grant sees a pattern of mine.
Leonie, it’s not about you getting stressed out at work. Because the fact is, whenever you get stressed out ANYWHERE in your life and your business, you react and self-soothe by working. You try and gain control of the whole world by controlling the microcosm of your business.
There was a stunned silence.
And I saw it so very clearly.
I tried to joke it off, like a whole new world had not just been born.
“HA! Well! There are worse things I could have done! No wonder the company has grown even when I’m having a completely terrible year!”
Sonya responded back immediately in that steadfast, loving, firm Taurean way of hers:
“Leonie, you can not pretend this has not come at a cost. This is not a healthy coping strategy. This is not how leaders lead and thrive.”
Each of these pieces.
Five moments of startling insight.
I go to bed at night time just to stare out at the stars.
Let their words sink into me and find a home there.
Let them lead me home.
Show me what needs healing, so I may be healed.
This is the songline of my life.
And as I lay there, I think of all the teachers in my life.
These lovely luminescent beings… who I am married to, work with, am friends with, am clients of, am a student of…
How did I get so lucky?
How did I get to be so loved that I am told the truth kindly and gently?
How is it possible I can be loved even when I am a work in progress?
I don’t know. I only know that this is the path ahead.
Keep turning up.
Keep facing toward the light.
Keep being humble and alive.
Keep meeting the truth.
Keep being met by love.
And be revealed, transformed by the whole damn thing.
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