This past August, I had the privilege of being co-host and guest speaker for the 1st Annual Bitter Grace Boutique Self-Care Retreat held in Washington, DC. I first met Anne-Marie Johnson, Owner, and Founder of Bitter Grace Boutique, in April at the DC Bloggers event, and a few weeks later, we met for dinner to discuss potential collaborations. The retreat came up, and immediately I knew this could be big… The self-care retreat would be an event geared towards self-care, and proceeds would be donated to the mission of Doorways, a non-profit group that creates pathways out of homelessness, domestic violence, and sexual assault leading to safe, stable, and empowered lives. The months following our dinner, we were in full-throttle, planning, and preparing for the big day. We invited other speakers, including Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal, Founder of Resilience Leadership and Strategic Coaches, and Co-Founders Natalie Iannone and Rebecca Ahmed of “Turn It On.” Our event on August 31st was filled with collaborations, conversations and inspired immense growth for everyone in attendance, from vendors, attendees, speakers, and hosts. I want to get the message out to those who weren’t in attendance, and therefore, I’ve written out the talking points from my speech below.
My topic, “Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs,” was perfect for where I was in my life personally, and I thought it would be a great segway topic to open conversation with the audience. Below are my self-limiting beliefs – the “stories” I would tell myself – that would hold me back from the life I so desperately wanted and the life that I was worthy of.
I took my daughter to work one afternoon, and she said to me, “Momma, I’m never going to get this right.” She was drawing Piggie from the “Elephant and Piggie” books. I told her, “Olivia if you tell yourself you won’t, and you speak to yourself in that way, of course, you won’t get it right. We need to be kind to ourselves and speak positively.” I went on, “Let’s rephrase that…” We came up with affirmations, and she repeated them back to herself. I realized at that moment that the topic of “Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs” is not only important for us as adults, but it is so important for us to set a positive example for our children.
I hope to help shift something inside of you through sharing my story and dissecting my own self-doubts. Often, we as women don’t give ourselves the love and care that we need, and today that changes.
These were my self-limiting beliefs, these are the “stories” I would tell myself:
- I will be a failure if my marriage ends.
- My clothing, cars, shoes, handbags, and house-made me beautiful and worthy.
- I will never find love; relationships are supposed to hurt.
- All men lie, cheat, steal, and abandon.
- I will disappoint or ruin my daughter if she grows up in a broken home.
- I will be alone, and so I will suffer.
Surprise, surprise, I built my life around this belief system. I manifested this checklist and brought it into my real life. I made all of it true – about the world and myself. I made sure I was right until I was ready to be wrong.
When I realized I had the power over my own life, I found myself completely alone and terrified in a luxury hotel room the night of December 27th, 2017, in Zurich, Switzerland. It was 3:30 AM on our first day in Europe. My daughter was sound asleep in bed, and there I was once again, in a foreign country alone, crying on the floor of a hotel room bathroom. That was my Elizabeth Gilbert moment, but my partner wasn’t asleep in the room next to me. This is when I broke through the fear and found the courage to get out. I packed myself and my daughter’s belongings and left on the next flight out of Switzerland, only having been on the ground for 12 hours. I filed for divorce the next week.
In those moments of fear and terror, I felt a strong sense of protection over me. I felt as if my higher power was there, guiding me along the way. In those first few months after Zurich and even up until today, I feel a strong force paving my path. I dropped all 6 of my fears that day in Switzerland. Even if all those “stories” I told myself were true, I had to decide. I chose to save my soul.
At what crisis point are we ready to change the stories we are telling ourselves? The first year I felt like a fish out of water; I had no idea how I would do it – but I did it.
The Summer I Let Go
June 2019. In my brothers room before Olivia and I moved into my fathers house.
Summer 2019, after an amazing dinner with my friend Anne-Marie, we decided to partner together and throw the Bitter Grace Self Care 1st Annual Self-Care Retreat. The dinner was life-changing for me; it unlocked the door to something significant and something that needed to happen to take the next step in my healing and growth.
Last summer, I released all material possessions that no longer served me. After I sold all of my furniture, donated 75% of my clothing, traded in my Cadillac SUV – I moved out of my luxury apartment, put my courage aside, and did what I had to do – I had to move myself and my daughter in with my father, so I could come up with the resources to continue to fight a legal battle. I had to do everything I could to keep my head above water and fight for what was right.
Once I removed everything that distracted or covered me up, I became very vulnerable. I was liberated; I was free. All the tangible things I thought were fulfilling and brought happiness weighed me down. I let go of it all and continued to show up as who I am and not what I have. Once I dropped the fear of what other people thought of me and the fear of being judged for what I DON’T have – I didn’t have to be perfect anymore. It was then that people could connect with me more, more deeply, and authentically… Rapunzel’s tower vanished.
Flash forward to today; after 3 months of living with my father, Olivia and I have since moved on and are living in a new space. We are surrounded by the people, items, and environment that bring us joy. In my father, I have witnessed selflessness and unconditional love. These are the values I want to expose my child to. Olivia has a strong relationship with her grandfather, and I am more connected to my dad today than ever. When Olivia and I needed somewhere to go, my father didn’t bat an eyelash. He opened his doors and his arms for his daughter and granddaughter, which I will forever appreciate and never forget. When I let everything go that summer, I realized how much space I was making to fill with love, appreciation, and connection.
The day we moved out of our apartment.
Leading up to my trip to Bali, and even when I arrived, people would say to me, “Are you traveling ALONE?” Almost as if it was a horrific idea. The conversation would go on with powerful statements like, “I could never do that.” “What if something happens to you?” “You know Indonesia is a third world country, right?!” If we tell ourselves we can’t or think something horrible will happen and enter a journey with that mindset, we will never do what we think to be unthinkable. If you care and nurture yourself, you can overcome all fears and obstacles – anything is possible. I want to touch on my fear of being alone. The word “alone” kept coming up for me when I was in Bali. I want to make a strong and powerful statement – I felt more alone in my 10-year marriage than I did in Bali. There… I said it.
While preparing for my trip, I challenged myself. I went with my backpack, 4 outfits, 2 bathing suits, a pair of Teva’s, and Sonuks. I removed all the external “noise” and opened my eyes and heart to what really mattered – connection, love, and spirituality. I went on this journey by myself for 9 days. The intention for this trip was to be a spiritual and enlightening journey – it was all of that and more. I met some of the most amazing humans I have ever met in my life. In 9 days, I learned more about myself, the world, God, the universe, and relationships than I have in my 33 years of life.
In Bali, I had a spiritual awakening. I let go of my self-doubts. I became the most grateful I have ever been in my life. On my journey home, I found myself hyperventilating – crying through the streets of Ubud because I had to leave such an astounding place that provided me with so much enlightenment. The gratitude, empathy, and love I took home with me felt so strong and powerful that it deserves its own piece, which I intend to put down on paper. For now, I will leave you with this – you can’t have joy without having gratitude. In returning from Bali, I am more grateful than I have ever been. I’ve never felt more connected with God, myself, and others than I do right now. I shifted my thoughts around happiness and joy and realized my life is meant to be shared for a purpose. I realized (with the help of the Balinese people) that by living my life in service of others, by sharing my healing and self-discovery journey, I will be enlightened and therefore enlighten others, and that is my life’s mission.
We are all energy – we are not the clothes on our back, the color of our hair, the house we own, the car we drive… we are souls, the light within our own body – all the external is noise.
Call To Action
Every day I challenge you to a daily mantra, to empower yourself to be your best version. If we tell ourselves we can, we believe it. As human beings, we tend to stay in “safe zones.” Therefore, we need to check ourselves on the reality of “danger.”
Begin replacing and catching yourself when you say, “I can’t,” “I won’t,” and replace it with “I am” or “I am in the process of.” When you say, “in the process of,” it allows the space to grow and allows your subconscious to work towards “I am” or “I can.”
To release yourself of self-doubt, what would you have to be wrong about in the “stories” that you tell yourself? How can you rewire your brain to speak positively to yourself and others? What steps can you take now to bring yourself the most joy? It doesn’t have to be Bali, your marriage doesn’t have to end, and you don’t have to sell or donate all your material possessions. You can adjust and shift your self-doubts by simply catching yourself in those moments of weakness and turn around and offer yourself kindness and love.
Accept yourself completely, love yourself abundantly, and know that you are worth all the happiness you already have within you – break free and let go of what no longer serves you to make space for what will.
We raised just under $2,000.00 for Doorways! We are already planning for the 2nd annual retreat next year, and we cannot wait! To donate to Doorways, directly follow this link.
The Universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are. – Rumi