When You’re at a Crossroad, You Don’t Always Have to Choose

Sometimes I fall off the radar completely.

I become near impossible to reach by phone or text unless you’ve scheduled something. My social media accounts may continue to be updated, but I’m certainly not present. Instagram goes dark. Non essential emails don’t get answered. I just… step back.

In those moments it’s incredibly difficult for me to show up for life. It’s not that I’m depressed, it’s that I suddenly just don’t know how to show up. I don’t know how to be in this life and my work anymore.

What I’m learning is that these are important integration points for me. Moments where the internal shifts have completed, and I’ve transitioned into whatever’s next for me. I’ve shed a layer, or all, of my skin. I’ve cracked open even further. I’ve shifted in deep and noticeable ways.

When we shift internally, the external suddenly becomes out of alignment. And so we don’t know how to be in our lives, relationships, or work anymore. There’s no place for the new, because everything continues on from the old.

There’s no space for the words that want to come through, because they don’t fit with the branding or the messaging or the containers we’ve created for all the areas of our lives. They don’t fit with the people that belong in our past, because we’re now on to the next, and we no longer know how to have the conversations we had before.

There’s no space for the expressive self that wants to come out and play, because we’re so used to how we were before, like that worn, comfortable pair of jeans and the old white tee shirt we’ve sported for years. Suddenly, it’s like putting on bright red lipstick and a colorful sundress we’ve never worn and saying EVERYONE, LOOK AT ME, I’M DIFFERENT. It feels good and natural and oh-so-vulnerable and uncomfortable all at the same time.

There’s no space for all the feelings and emotions that are swirling just below the surface, because we no longer desire the same things we desired before. And we feel just a little unsteady, because it’s all new and raw and challenging to put into words in a way that doesn’t make us look crazy to the ones who are used to the old words. The old emotions. The stability and predictability. It feels a little like we’ve gone off the deep end.

Oftentimes it feels like a crossroads.

A point where we need to make a choice. Between what was, and what is now. Between the people we love, and the people we don’t know yet. Between the work we’ve been doing, and the work we feel called to do.

But what I’m learning is that it’s not always about choice. It’s not always that we have to leave something or someone behind. Sometimes, absolutely. We’ve simply outgrown a level, layer, relationship, or way of being, and it’s time to move forward.

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But sometimes, it’s simply about integration and alignment.

Taking what was and what is now, and finding the middle ground. Finding the point at which everything melds together in a beautiful new way. In a way that is truly aligned with what’s true for us now, and honors what’s amazing about what already exists in front of us.

Changing the size and shape of the containers we’ve created, rather than throwing them out completely. Wearing the bright red lipstick with the comfortable old jeans, rather than totally reinventing ourselves. Having new conversations that invite the old friends to meet us where we are. Giving people time to catch up to us. Embracing the mess of the new emotions as they infuse into the steadiness of our day to day rhythms. As we shift to make space for them and find our footing once again.

I’ve come to what I thought was a crossroads time and time again, for all the years I’ve had this business. A point at which I felt like I had to choose between what I’ve built and where I make my money, and how I really want to show up. Where I really feel called to work and speak and create.

Until I realized it was simply about integration and alignment.

Not choosing one or the other, but finding the point at which they meld together in a beautiful new way. Creating the space and remolding all the containers. Allowing those and that which need to fall away to go, but not forcing myself to choose. Not forcing myself to leave anything behind I don’t desire to leave behind.

So the next time you find yourself at a crossroad, I want you to ask yourself, “Do I really need to choose? Or do I simply need to integrate and align?”

Be Kind. Always.

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My Grandma passed away this week. A wonderful woman who was ready to head off into whatever’s next, she went peacefully in her sleep. Honestly, she never quite got over my Grandpa’s passing many years ago, and she just wanted to be with him again. May we all have a love like that in this life.

I’m seeing beautiful photos and messages about her alongside baby pictures, engagement celebrations, graduation albums, and funny videos with commentary.

Facebook may be a waste of time in many ways, but it’s a good reminder that we’re all having our own individual experiences at any given time.

I remember flying home from Hawaii to attend a funeral this past December… sitting in the airport, incredibly numb, sad, raw, and existing inside a body that was doing everything it could to keep me upright, despite lack of food or sleep. Despite the heartbreak and the trauma it endured just days earlier.

It was jarring to watch people carry on as if nothing had just happened… and it was hard to deal with people who had no idea what space I was in.

But, such is life.

We’re all having incredibly individual and unique experiences at any given time. We have no idea what other people are going through… and while you never have to tolerate hurtful behavior, try to look at everyone with compassion.

I had a conversation the other day with a sweet soul where we talked about how hard it is to piss either of us off. Because we can look at even the cruelest person who is attacking us personally with love and compassion. With an understanding that there’s something that happened (or didn’t happen) that caused them enough pain to act the way they do. It’s not about us. And we never really know what someone else is going through, or has been through.

Sending love and hugs and light to those suffering.
Sending love and hugs and high fives to those celebrating.
Sending love and hugs and strength to those in transition.
Sending love and hugs and peace to those who feel angry.
Sending love and hugs and faith to those that are lost.

We’re all in this together, no matter our individual experience.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

The Part of Me I Could Never Outrun

I’m not really sure how so much light can come from someone so dark.

I was always a little afraid of the “dark and twisties” I think. The space inside of me that feels so deep, shadowy, and boundless… Always certain that if I folded myself down into it and turned inside out, everything would fall away and I would be lost amongst the cosmos. I would just disappear from this world.

While it may sound like it, “dark” doesn’t equate to “depressed.” There’s a sense of intense heaviness I can’t put words to, but it’s not a glum or despondent space.

It’s not a thing I really know how to put into words.

I’m realizing that I’ve spent years trying to outrun the darkness inside of me, seeing it as a thing to be avoided.

Only, I could never outrun it.

And the more I tried, the harder it flattened me when it finally caught up. Usually in moments where I was surrounded by people, having lively conversation about things that don’t really matter. Suddenly, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t exist in a space of light and fluffy and meaningless meandering. Without warning, the darkness would all but consume me.

And for about three long days, it would take everything I had inside of me to stay upright in this life and world. To not tear down the parts of my business that didn’t feel aligned. To not walk right out of relationships and conversations that weren’t right and true. To not up and leave the life I had built and the obligations I’d found myself in so that I could do that which really spoke to my soul.

While those were some of the hardest sets of days I’ve experienced in my life, if you asked me how I really felt about them, I would tell you that they felt like beautiful points of forced recalibration. In those days, it wasn’t possible for me to care about things that didn’t feel meaningful and important. I simply didn’t have the capacity… and bless those poor souls that tried to have conversations with me about anything surface level.

Those days forced me to see and feel what really mattered to me. To see and feel the true purpose of my life and work. To see and feel where things weren’t in alignment anymore. Recalibration on a deep level.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that the only reason I can be such a light, happy, positive, loving person is because of the darkness. It’s one and the same.

These days the dark and twisties are more integrated into my day to day life. I feel that heaviness and intensity all the time. When I stopped trying to outrun them, it became this constant flow of energy just below the surface. Intermingling with the joy, light, and positivity in a beautiful way.

Most people only see the obnoxiously happy and positive person on the surface. But if you got to know me and took a closer look, you’d see that the source of the positive, happy, “I freaking love this life” attitude is the deep, shadowy, boundless darkness inside of me.

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We all have a deep, dark, shadow side to us. We’re usually just too scared or unsure of how to acknowledge and integrate it.

The part of you that’s angry or jealous. The part that is frustrated or annoyed. The part that is sad and heavy and unsettled. And for some, it’s even the joy and the positivity. Our shadow sides are as unique as we are, and manifest in totally different ways.

Carl Jung describes the shadow side as, “a denied part of the self, a part we repress because we have been given a message that it is ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ or that we need to feel shame and guilt if we have it.”

I believed that my shadow side, the “dark and twisties”, were wrong because there was no space in my life where they seemed to fit. When I’d try to share, I got the sense that I was “too much” and “too intense” and that those were bad things. But these days? I embrace that. I am a bit much and I am a bit intense.

That’s just part of who I am… and that “too muchness” and “intensity” is what makes me so obnoxiously positive and happy. It’s what makes me so bright and so utterly in love with this life.

We have to stop denying our shadow sides.

I’m still learning how to define my shadow side, and how it wants to show up in my life and work and relationships. I’m grateful for the beautiful friends that have sat in it with me and created the space for me to explore it without feeling like I was too much, too anything. And as I’ve allowed myself to dive deeper into this space, so many amazing things have happened for me.

I’ve been told this side of me is incredibly attractive.
I’ve started writing in a new way, one that connects more deeply.
I’ve honored myself and my needs in ways I never could.
I’ve attracted more amazing souls into my life.
I’ve finally figured out how to better integrate my work.
I’ve started feeling whole and complete in a powerful new way.

And that’s key.

Embracing and integrating our shadow side allows us to show up fully and truthfully.

I started speaking my truth with terrifying intention and vulnerability last year, and it was beyond life altering… but it wasn’t enough. Awesome things were happening, but I was still feeling out of sorts and out of place. I still couldn’t seem to create alignment in my work, and I still wasn’t able to show up truthfully in many situations, because I didn’t really know what that looked or felt like.

If you’re not feeling like you can show up fully, or like you’ve found your place in life, you’re likely denying an important part of who you are. You’re trying to hard to fit in and not stir the pot… worried that some aspect of your personality is “wrong” or “bad”, when really, it’s just who you are.

And the truth is, our shadow sides are our most powerful sides. Because they’re real and raw and honest. And when we integrate them, we become whole and complete, a force to be reckoned with. Things can’t help but align, or to fall away if they’re wrong. People can’t help but to connect with us more fully and deeply, because we’re all there.

What does your shadow side look and feel like, and where have you been denying it?

If you’re not sure, ask yourself what parts have been labeled “bad” or “wrong” by yourself or others. What side have you tucked away or suppressed? What piece feels unsafe to bring to the surface?

There’s always a healthy and powerful way to integrate your shadow side so you can show up more fully. If you’re not sure about how to do this, consider booking a VIP “Lite” Day with me today. I’m offering a very special rate to the next five few people to sign up. :)

How Personal Should You Make Your Brand and Business?

“How do you decide how personal to make your brand?”

This question always makes me smile, because it’s something that people tend to ask with such exasperation. Usually, it’s a thing they’ve been mulling over in their mind, and they feel so confused about whether or not to be front and center in their business, and everyone is telling them something different.

Really though, it’s quite simple. And it’s not something that anyone else can answer for you. Because it comes down to what feels right for you, how you want to show up in your business, and how you want to position yourself.

Do you want to be known by name for the work that you do as the teacher, coach, author, speaker, creator? Or do you want your business to be able to stand independently from you?

There’s not much more thought that needs to go into this.

My business is built around me, because I want to be known for the work I do. As the teacher, coach, author, speaker, and creator. I want to tell my story and share my life on a personal level. I’ve created programs that stand independently of me as sub-brands, but I’m still the core of my business and the credited creator of the processes and systems within them. That’s just what feels right for me.

I’ve also created companies in the past that stood independently of me. A design business with a co-founder and an agency presence, as well as an interview website that was focused around a mission and a message, not me as an individual. The nonprofit I found will also be focused around a movement and a cause, and isn’t about me and my work on an individual and personal level.

Regardless of what you choose, it’s incredibly important to create a personal connection with your audience. And I know that might seem on the surface like I’m telling you that you have to show up more personally and front and center in your business, but I’m not. Personal connection is a thing that can be created whether or not you and your name are even present in your brand or marketing.

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How to Create Personal Connection:

When you’re front and center in your business, creating personal connection is really about telling your story, and sharing more of yourself.

As with everything else, you get to decide exactly what and how much you share. Creating personal connection doesn’t require you to share all the ins and outs of your daily life, relationships, or struggles. But it is about being real, and showing that you’re a real person too. It’s about creating content that reflects the fact that you are indeed a human being with a story, struggles, and even flaws.

We’re all so tired of the online facades that people put out there… only sharing the positive, happy moments. The successes and big wins. The six figures and speaking engagements. We crave realness, rawness, and depth. It seems silly to some, but we desire to know what people are eating, where they are, and what they’re thinking. We long to know that they’re a real person too, and we love to peek inside their world.

I was once on a call with a coaching client who told me she loved that I shared pictures of my food and my cats on Instagram. “I just love knowing you’re a real person too, with a real life.” I certainly follow people online simply because I connect with their struggles, food choices, interior design sense, and goals. They’re willing to share themselves with me, and I feel connected.

When your business stands independently of you, creating personal connection is about intertwining your brand with the lives, dreams, and struggles of your audience.

You can create a product or service that people buy… and you may even build up a following of repeat clients and customers. But it’s not until you go beyond the surface level of what you offer and dive deep into the lives, dreams, and struggles of the people who give you money that you really build a following.

Because we crave connection, we also desire products and services and things that allow us to boldly state who we are and what we believe in. We want to buy into something more than just another product or service. We want to buy into a lifestyle, a belief, or a statement. We want to support a cause, represent our people, and vote with our dollars.

So instead of telling people what you do or how you do it, tell them why you do it. Tell them the story behind the product or service. Most importantly, show them how your products and services fit into their lives and belief systems. Your brand is more than just the colors and fonts you choose, or the logo you have designed… it’s the core essence of your business. It’s who you are. And who you are should have a clearly defined personality and voice. Proudly stated beliefs and values that are woven into everything you do.

Personal connection is how you go from being just another coach, service provider, product, or company to being a brand that fosters a strong, loyal following. A business that sparks a movement and stands the test of time.

How will you begin infusing more personality and personal connection into your business, brand, and marketing?

Not sure how create more personal connection in your business?

Book a 90-minute strategy session with me today! This is one of my favorite ways to support my clients, and it’s easier than you think. We’ll map out your content or process, and you’ll be able to walk away with a new and unique offering, unlike anything else out there. Feel free to contact me with questions.

When the Words Finally Came

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I haven’t been able to stop writing.

It’s fascinating to me how there are moments that simply shift us. Within seconds, we can go from being one way to being something completely new or different.

We just… change.

I’m still incredibly sad about the moment that shifted me in ways I’m only beginning to understand. And I’m still learning how to show up in my life and work from this new space. The fact is, I haven’t been able to write since this loss of mine… at least not in the way I wrote before. I’ve tried. Oh, have I tried. And sometimes I’ve even succeeded. But mostly I just haven’t written.

I also haven’t been able to work on my business in the way I did before. Everything was feeling wrong and hard and challenging. Things weren’t happening. Things that really, really needed to happen. My business is the same, but I’ve shifted, and I’m still learning how to show up and work from this new space.

“I just want to tell stories.”

I was driving to the bookstore in the pouring rain when these words tumbled out of my mouth. I just want to tell stories. There was no one in the car but me, but I suddenly felt compelled to say something and that’s what came out.

So I bought myself a notebook from the clearance section of Barnes and Noble and I wrote a story. I wrote a story about love and loss, and being seen fully by a man that will never hold me. And then I wrote another story… and another, and another. Stories from yesterday and from years ago. Stories I’d forgotten, and stories that have been burning just below the surface.

I thought I didn’t have the words… but I did. They just couldn’t come out like they did before. They wanted to come through as stories.

Story after story after story.

I’m not the writer I was before. Whether it’s because my brain doesn’t work like it did before, or because I simply shifted in that moment… I don’t really know. But I know that I can’t stop writing. I have never felt so raw and open and exhausted. The stories won’t stop, and so many of them have no place.

They come to me when I’m sleeping, causing me to fumble around in the dark for my phone or laptop or a piece of paper and pen. They come to me when I’m driving, forcing me to pull over and write myself a note or an email. They come to me when I’m trying to write something else, with a seemingly random word spiraling into a finished piece in a matter of minutes. They come all the time.

They bring me to tears. They make me smile. They pull from some of the deepest wounds and the darkest moments of my life, as well as the happiest and most soul stirring. They’re short. They’re long. Sometimes they’re more like a poem. They’re intense and raw and unfiltered. They’re nothing like I’ve ever written.

And with the stories came a big shift in my business. A shift I’m still sorting out. A shift that’s built entirely around this space inside me that’s just opened up. Around the stories.

Because I just want to tell stories.

Stories are the space in which we really connect. Where we show ourselves fully and allow others to step into our world and experience. And story, I’m realizing, is a big part of this next chapter for me. And I have so much to share.

If you asked me two months ago what topic I wanted to base my business on, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. With her guidance and support, my business is up and running and I have created my Individual Coaching Package and two Transformational Quick-Guides. I’m currently coaching my own clients and there are several other products and packages in the making. The best part is that, by working with Stephenie, I have been able to overcome my own mental blocks so that I now feel so much more in-tune with my own creative flow.