I have a few responsibilities to uphold while I’m here on this planet, and one of them — I think the biggest one — is to help people live their lives more authentically. Like, I’m talking unabashedly authentic. Unapologetically authentic. This is how I live. At least, I really, really try to. Being authentic is kind of in my bones. It’s my North Star. When I know I’m not being true to myself, I literally feel sick. I feel like I’m living in a pile of mud, or to put it more bluntly, shit. I feel like shit. Maybe even I look like shit. Life feels heavy. I feel like something extreme and intense is raging inside of me, trying desperately to burst outta me like I’m that creepy girl from “The Exorcist.” I might feel scattered. Lost. Uneasy. Extra emotional (more so than usual). Something just feels off. Basically, I don’t feel like ME.
When I feel this grossness, I know it’s time for…a change. A shift. An overdue text message. It’s not something different and unLIKE me, but the opposite. I do what comes natural. What feels real and true. I get back to me. And in order to do this, I get clear on what that is, what that would feel and look like. And then…I fucking do it.
This has looked like…quitting more jobs than I can count. Going freelance. Turning down a book deal. Moving across the country. Breaking some hearts. Breaking my own heart.
All in the name of authentic living.
But here’s the thing: being real and true to you is a process. It’s self-awareness. It’s purging. It’s getting raw and real. It’s no bullshit. It’s owning your shit. It’s claiming what you want, wholeheartedly. It’s super duper vulnerable.
I think what must come before authenticity are a couple of things. The first: acceptance. Total self-acceptance of who you are and what you want, and acceptance of your sacred and shadow side. Like, deep shit. (Total self-acceptance, by the way, is always, always going to be a work-in-progress. So, like, let’s leave that one for another day.)
The other is, clarity. Clarity on…everything. What you want. What you like, what you don’t like. Clarity on who you are. What you like about yourself, what you don’t. What you want to own about your life’s story, what you want to let go of. With clarity — which by the way, can be just as challenging/confrontational as self-acceptance and is most definitely not easy to spot just so we’re, uh, clear — comes intention.
Ooh, intention. In my humble opinion everything starts with intention. From what we eat to how we communicate to our relationships to our creative projects to…
Because without intention, we are operating from autopilot. Knee-jerk reflexes. Old habits and patterning that probably don’t serve us any longer.
For example: you want to feel more healthy, but your go-to snacks are highly processed and not-that-great-for-you but they’re “easy” and “comfortable” and it’s what you know, so…Or…maybe you have this dying, all-encompassing urge to honour your beautiful creativity. You really want to make something that is so YOU. That is so perfectly aligned with your soul. But you’re still working at that desk job you hate…
How do you bust out of these ruts? With intention. How do you live life more authentically? With intention. How do you create soul-aligning work? With intention. But what does it mean to have an intention? And how do you know what yours is?
It goes back to your WHY.
Why do you want…the healthy body? The long-term relationship? The creative enterprise? Why, why, why.
And how do you find your WHY? By figuring out what your values are. By understanding that you want certain things because you believe they will bring you a certain ‘something something’ into your life. Mostly a feeling. Feelings that feel good. Feelings that feel like your best self. Your most true self.
My values/feelings are: Fulfillment. Connection. Community. Stability. Joy.
Speaking very broadly, these look like: Working from home. Communicating my needs and desires. Solid friends and family around me. Entrepreneurship. Freedom. Flexibility. A steady income. Animals. Love. Good food. Exercise.
When I got clear with my intention on my WHY with writing…I was booking more long-term gigs. I was writing stuff I cared about. Subjects that I loved. I enjoyed. I finally felt I had something to say. I felt purposeful. I also landed a book deal and an agent.
And now my WHY has put me on the path of a new project: my desire to create a writing workshop that focuses on “creating from intention.”
Maybe I buried the lede. But, yes, this is something I’m working on and hoping to bring to people sometime this year — a writing workshop and course that helps people create projects with intention. So that you can create from a place of authenticity. So that the work you’re creating feels and sounds like YOU. That you are sharing YOUR story. Your truth.
Because I think that’s what we’re all here to do. To live and share our truths/stories with one another. Your story is everyone’s story. You heal by healing. Speak and live the truth and we all feel free.
So in preparation of this new venture of mine, here’s a little exercise: Think of a creative project — or any project, any wish that you are desiring — and think of your WHY. Why do you want to create that meditation course? Write that children’s book? Don’t go general. Go deep. Get personal. What are your top five values in life? What feelings do you want to feel by creating this project? And WHY?
Your list and your why will look different from mine, of course. But we all have a list. We all have values. We all have a WHY. And when you know what that is…that fuels the fire. That brings the intention into focus.
And from there? You can start creating with your heart on fire.