On Taking Up Space, Having a Voice, and Being Who You Are

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I’m not proud to admit that I let people take pieces of me over the years — that I let myself believe I was wrong for who I am — and so I changed or shrunk or tucked parts away. I’m not to the point of feeling grateful for all the times I gave away my power to someone or something else, because I’m still untangling the mess of beliefs and stories and emotions that came from allowing other people’s “stuff” (aka fears or discomfort or insecurities or individual beliefs) to mold me.

But, I am learning how to take those pieces back, to reclaim the parts of me I bent or folded down to ”fit” inside someones expectation of who I should be. I am learning how to let the “too-muchness” shine bright, wiping away all the layers of “stuff” that dimmed my inner light over the years. I’m learning how to anchor myself more deeply into my own truth, so that I only stand taller and more firmly rooted in myself when the winds of challenge or shame try to uproot me.

I’m learning how to fight for the right to be who I am. To take up space. To have a voice.

This work is hard.
Some of the hardest I’ve done.

Because it’s asking me to face my greatest fears and my deepest wounds: that I’m not enough… that I’m too much… or, and this is the hardest to even write out, that I’m unlovable at my core.

Ouch.

We all share similar beliefs to the ones I wrote above. They show up for us differently. They were planted in varying ways. And they continue to grow and be triggered by very individual things. But if you’re still reading this post, my sense is that you likely resonate with one or all of them. Or, you simply struggle to take up your own space in this world.

Being who we are, taking up space, and owning our voice is hard and terrifying and challenging work. It opens us up to rejection and judgment, sometimes even abandonment. It bumps up against our deepest wounds and pains.

Yes, it’s highly likely we’ll be judged and even rejected.
Yes, it’s one of the hardest things we may ever face.
Yes, it cracks us open, time and time again.
Yes, it hurts like hell and leaves bumps and bruises as it goes.
Yes, it requires sinking into the deepest depths of our souls.
Yes, it requires facing the parts of us we’d rather ignore.

AND… it’s the most important work we will ever do.
The most rewarding, life altering work.

Because as hard as it’s been to learn how to take up space, share my voice, and be myself fully and completely at all times — with all people — I have never felt more aligned, fulfilled, and light. Nothing is left unsaid. Nothing is buried or tucked away. And there’s a beautiful lightness inside that I’ve never experienced before.

I had to fight like hell to get to where I am… and I still have so much more work to do. I’ve had to take a stand in ways that feel very jarring and confrontational to my quiet, still, people-pleasing self. I’ve shed a lot of angry, sad, highly emotional tears with the ones I love. And I’ve received so much wisdom and guidance from my mentors, closest friends, healing practices, and divine downloads.

I hate this work.
And I love it so, so much.

I’m tired and worn down.
And I’ve never felt as light as I do right now.

I’m deep in the muck of my own “stuff.”
And I’ve never been more free.

So today, this week, this month… I invite you to take up a little more space. Let your voice and preferences and beliefs be heard. Take a stand for what matters most to you, in whatever way feels right. Be a presence in every room and conversation. Unfold a little piece of you that got tucked away.

The world needs YOU.

How To Deal With Tragedy

I don’t watch or read the news.
I stopped probably five or six years ago.

Honestly, I stopped because I had to.

I’m a highly sensitive empath and the weight of the world is too much for my heart to handle at times, as big and vastly loving as it might be. Because when I watched or read the news — which structures itself intentionally to feed fear and frenzy and panic in its viewers — it flattened me, sometimes for days and weeks at a time.

Not watching the news doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what’s happening in the world around me… because I’m on social media, because the radio stations sporadically give news updates, and mostly because I’m surrounded by so many beautiful, passionate, caring, and purposeful souls who are constantly taking a stand for the things that matter most to them.

So… I know about the tragedy that happened in Orlando.
I heard all about Brock Turner and his “sentence.”
I’m aware of the ridiculousness that is our political scene right now.

And that’s just recent news from the United States.

Several years ago, news like this would have brought me to my knees and made me wonder what the point of this life was. I used to be convinced all people were awful creatures. I used to hate the world. I used to be so deflated by the day-to-day horrors that I could hardly function. And if I could muster up the strength to try and do something about it all, I would be paralyzed by the enormous amount of suffering around me, not knowing where to start.

I understand how terrifying it can feel to be alive in the world right now. I understand how devastating and frustrating it can be to watch as so much horror, suffering, violence, and hatred spreads across the globe. I understand how easy it is to focus on all that’s wrong… to be angry when it feels like not enough is being done to create the changes we all need and crave.

While it’s hard not to try and solve all the problems in this world, now more than ever, we have to focus on our own work.

It took a long time, but I’ve finally learned that I’m only one person, and I simply can’t bear the weight of the world on these little shoulders of mine. I can’t solve all the problems, all the time, for all the people. No one can.

What we can do, however, is our individual work in this world.

The truth is, not every tragedy, environmental challenge, social injustice, political misstep, or world conflict is aligned with my work. This breaks my heart, because I still want nothing more than to fix all that’s broken and damaged in this world, but I’m just one person. I’m not here to fix the whole world… and neither are you.

Now, before you get upset, hear me out.

This isn’t a post about “things just being the way they are.” This isn’t a post about indifference or ignoring all that pains our souls. This is a post about stepping up and making a difference in the only way that we really can.

Because despite not being here to fix the world, we’re absolutely here to contribute in very specific ways. I’m called to do very specific work — as are you — and that work has a ripple effect out into the lives of others, as well as their communities and the world around us.

This world is tragic and hard, and it breaks my heart in a hundred ways every single day. But I truly believe that our purpose comes from our pain, and my personal pain is deeply rooted in depression, suicide, grief, and all the ways we lose ourselves along the journey. My passion is helping people fully choose to stay, and teaching them what it means to live life fully aligned and fully expressed, so they can go on and contribute/heal/teach in all the ways I can’t.

This is my work, my purpose, my calling.
This is how I heal broken hearts of all kinds.
This is how I reduce the suffering that surrounds me.
This is how I impact the world, however big or small, far or wide.
This is how I make sense of all that is tragic and hard.
This is how I find beauty and joy in a world that is messy and chaotic.

So, regardless of how overwhelming the world feels right now, I want you to know that you have everything you need to create the change you want to see… right now. Simply because you’re here. Because you have a heart that cries out loudly around specific injustices. Simply because you’ve lived and loved and lost. Because you’ve crashed and burned, failed and made mistakes. Because you’ve suffered… and you are still living to tell the tale, regardless of whether or not you’ve “made it through” yet. You have wisdom and insight and gifts to give.

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You have the power to make a difference simply by showing up and telling the truth, by giving a voice to that which burns fiercely inside your heart, and by giving your whole being to the things that matter most… to you.

Not what matters most to me.
Not what matters most to your family or friends.
And certainly not what matters most to your social media circles.

Does this mean we ignore everything else?
No, absolutely not.

We give blood when we can.
We donate money or resources when we’re able.
We love and support and care for the wounded and beaten down.
We speak up when the opportunity to take a stand presents itself.
We vote. We volunteer. We protest. We sign the petitions.
We help in whatever way we can, whenever someone is in need.

But what we don’t do is water down our gifts and voice and unique contribution by trying to dedicate ourselves to absolutely every single tragedy, injustice, political issue, or environmental tragedy that’s happening.

So, if you’re feeling down about the world… ask yourself what hurts the most right now, and give everything you can to making a difference in that area. Don’t just sit around and share news stories with sad emojis online. Don’t rant from behind a screen about how “someone” needs to change something.

Get out there and do your work.
The world is waiting.

Your Feelings Are Welcome

“I am so freaking MAD and SAD and OVER EVERYTHING,” I texted my best friend late one night. “Just layers and layers of unmet sadness and anger and tired-of-the-bullshit are done being unacknowledged. I feel like a hot disastrous mess and it is not fun.”

I was sobbing. And reeling. Every cell in my being was vibrating with a blur of anger and sadness with a source that was nearly unidentifiable. It was just a big mashed up mess of stuff that sat for too long.

“Being a mess is good,” he replied with wisdom, as he always does. “That’s all the stuff that’s built up over a long time coming out.”

The truth is, I’m a feelings machine.

I feel all the feelings, all the time. With intensity. With force. With depth. With every bone in my body… whether I’m sad, excited, angry, or hurt.

And you know what?
I love to feel my feelings.

I love to be overwhelmed by them.
Engulfed by them.
Turned upside down inside of them.

But, truth be told, I love the dark, hard, challenging ones the most… because the dark, hard, challenging ones are the ones that break us down and crack us open in all the ways we most need. Being cracked open, though it hurts like hell, has made up the most beautiful moments of my entire life. And it’s allowed me to feel the joy, love, peace, and passion with even more richness and intensity.

I spent a very large portion of my adult life in a state of numbness. So much so that I had to learn to fake emotion. To laugh at things that were supposed to be funny. To be enthused and excited about gifts and surprises. To be sad and cry about things that were sad and cry worthy.

People have told me my entire life, in their own ways and words, that my feelings are “too much.” I’m too intense, too passionate, too deep, too dark, too feeling, or that I care too much or for too long. They’ve actively shut me down from their own discomfort. From their own inability to face their emotions, to feel them fully and completely.

And, more times than I care to admit, I’ve let them do it. But I’m finally learning how to stay open and feeling and “too much” anyways. Despite who feels uncomfortable. Despite who’s unable to meet me inside of it. Despite those that tell me I need to get over it already, feel differently, or be less than I am.

Because when I shut the feelings down — when I let them continue to be unmet or made wrong — I lose myself.

Big, chunky, important pieces of who I am. The part of me that creates and writes and passionately works to make a difference in this world. The part of me that is a gifted empath and intuitive. The part that innovates and catalyzes change in others and the world around me.

And I lose the part of me they most want to return… the light, the laughter, the bubbly, sparkly, in-love-with-life-ness.

You can’t have the bubbles and sparkles without the intense depths from which they surface. You can’t have the light and laughter without the darkness and the tears. You can’t have the in-love-with-life-ness without the parts of me that question the point of any of it, the parts that don’t belong and will never understand this world.

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You’re a feelings machine too, though you may not know it.

Probably because you’ve shut that part of you down, or you’re afraid to show it. Or maybe because the thought of venturing into that pocket inside yourself is terrifying. Or, like me, someone told you that it was too much, unwelcome, and that they preferred another part of you instead. That they only wanted the easy, happy, shiny pieces, because they’re afraid to face their own darkness. Their own unmet, unacknowledged, and stuffed down hurt or anger or sadness.

I’m here to remind you, and myself, that all your feelings are welcome. All your emotions, your “too much-ness”, your intensity. All the parts of you that are deep and dark and challenging and hard.

They are welcome.
They are beautiful and true.
They are healing and powerful.
They are the place from which the light is born.
They are the reason you can feel so much love and joy.

They are welcome, so let them move through.

Find the people who can sit with you inside of them without making you wrong or too much or too slow to feel… and hold them tight. Anyone who is unwilling or unable to meet you there — anyone who can’t handle all parts of you — well, they don’t deserve the light, the laughter, the bubbly, sparkly, in-love-with-life-ness that comes from the dark, hard, challenging parts, now do they?

Empty Out Before You Go

“I want to break myself in and wear myself out.”

This quote by Sheena Sharma is one that you’re either going to love or be totally turned off by. Which I can see, because “break myself in and wear myself out,” that sounds kind of exhausting, right? But the truth is, words are just words. And while words carry real, tangible energy that have the power to impact our lives, we are the ones who put the vibration and intention behind them. Nothing and no one else.

So when I read this quote, my whole heart flooded with a big YES.

I want to break myself in and wear myself out. I want the Universe, God, Source, or Spirit to use me up and spit me out in service of my purpose. I want to live this life as fully and completely as possible. To learn and love and grow by pushing my edges, time and time again. And I want to empty myself out completely before I go… with my words, my work, my truth.

When I leave this realm, I want to know that I gave all of me to the ones I love, to the work I’m called to do, and to living life fully expressed.

I want to know that I was as courageous and bold as is possible.
That I wasn’t afraid of saying and living what was true for me.
That I never shied away from loving fully out of fear of getting hurt.
That I didn’t avoid amazing experiences out of fear or discomfort.

I want to break myself in.

To know that I did the deep work and faced the most challenging parts of life with  full presence, cracking myself open, time and time again. That I let people break my heart with more intensity each time, because I was brave enough to love them with every bone in my body, every cell in my being, every inch of my heart and soul.

I want to know that I sank into the deepest depths of the hardest kinds of grief, because I was willing to be honest about the parts that hurt and the losses that shake us to our core. I want to rise up from the ashes of the aftermaths we endure in this life with so much fierceness and gratitude, because I was willing to let it all burn to the ground. That I was willing to release my grip and settle into surrender, no matter how uncomfortable I got.

I want to wear myself out.

To know that I left everything there was to say on the page. On the canvas. In the hearts and ears of those who show up to share this journey with me. That I passed on all the wisdom and mistakes and knowledge I have to give to the ones who are called to listen. I want to know that when I leave, I’m leaving empty, void of regret, and unburdened by words unspoken. To know that I gave every last piece of me to the work, my people, the world.

I want to know that I contributed in the ways that only I can. That I never let my gifts grow dusty on the shelf, because I was too afraid to step it up when life asked me to. That I never left my stories untold, because I was too afraid to tell them out loud. I want to know that I experienced as much as I possibly could in this beautiful world, because I wasn’t afraid to take risks or prioritize what really matters.

I want to be used up.

In service of my purpose. In service of those I’m here to serve and love and support. In service of something far greater than I may ever know in this lifetime. I do not want to simply exist, to simply make money and own things… I want to lay my life down in service of that greater vision. That greater energy and entity that is far wiser than I will ever be in this human form. I want to know that I gave my all to everything and everyone, that I never half assed it or cut corners, because it was “easier” or more “comfortable” to do so. I want to know that my one little life mattered, not just in a big, global way, but in the every day interactions with the beautiful souls who share this space.

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This is my prayer to the Universe.
This is the mantra that resonates in my bones.
This is the truth that tugs at my purpose driven heart.

For years, this prayer resounded in my heart and soul, though I had no idea what my work was. I had no idea who I was for that matter.

I just knew that I was here for more and that I wanted nothing more than to give back. To serve. To lead. To teach. I wanted to create something that mattered, even though I wasn’t sure any of it did.

If a similar prayer resonates in your bones, know that the Universe is listening. God, Source, Infinite Wisdom. The law of polarity states that everything in this world has an opposite… everything we desire is already here. Which means that if your heart beats this prayer out into the Universe with every waking moment, every breath, every step… you have work to do.

You are here to contribute.
In service of something far greater than you know.

You are here to empty out.
In service of the sweet souls who need you most.

You are here to break yourself in.
In service of growing into the person you’re here to be.

And with every breath, step, beat of our hearts… we are waiting for you. For your words, you work, your truth, your presence. We are desperate for the contribution only you can make. For you to leave your mark. For you to tell your story. To share your heart and soul with us.

So even if you don’t know what that means, know that if your heart is aching for it, you’re already being led. I’ll be the first to admit that it took longer than I wanted it to… because it had to. Because I had to go through all the things I went through first. Life was the greatest training and education I could ever have been given to become the person I’m here to be. It still is. Every day I deepen into my truth, into my work. Every day I push my edges in new and uncomfortable ways. Every day I’m guided to another piece of the puzzle that is my calling.

So be patient.
Sit in prayer with your heart.
Listen for the signs.
Trust the journey.
And know that we’re waiting.

When Our Life And Work Asks Us To Step It Up

The thought was so tiny and simple, easily missed or brushed off as insignificant and silly. It randomly appeared one afternoon while I was writing, one of those whispers of the soul that we can neither confirm or deny… *they just are*. Simple truths that shake us to our core and begin to change everything.

“I’m going to keep people from choosing to leave this world.”

I remember the moment it surfaced, because I had to pause. “I’m sorry, what?” was the thought that followed. And, as simple truths do, it simply repeated itself word for word: I’m going to keep people from choosing to leave this world.

I sat with this for awhile. Not wanting to say it out loud.
Because that would make it real… and it’s too terrifying to be real.

But it’s my work and, if I’m honest, I know it.
I’ve known it for some time now.

You see, I have a theory. A theory that burns my insides and tugs at my heart, calling at me every single day. A theory that gives me chills and inspires me with its possibilities… energizes me with my own personal experience. A theory that’s bigger than just working with depression, and reaches for the hands of the lost and broken and beaten down all over the world.

It’s a theory that also scares the shit out of me.

Because it’s not just a big undertaking, it’s enormous. Seemingly impossible and impractical. And the truth is, I have absolutely no idea how to do it right now. I just know that I have to try. With everything in my being I know I have to step it up and figure it out. Maybe it will happen in this lifetime, maybe it’s meant to inspire the work that will finish it generations from now. I don’t know.

I just know it’s time to step it up.

And that’s really what I’m writing to you about today, stepping it up. In service of something greater than you. In service of your calling and purpose in this life. The work you’re here to do.

“I don’t know how to step it up…” she wrote me, “I guess time will tell if I need to or want to.” I’m writing this post for her as much for me.

Because the truth is, I know it’s time to step it up… but it would be so much easier not to. It would be so much easier to just focus on what I’m good at, what I know how to do. To make a decent living doing awesome work with awesome people, and just living life comfortably and freely.

That would be easier than binding myself to a calling that is so beyond me I can’t even begin to comprehend how it’s possible. And that’s the thing with stepping it up in service of callings, we think it’s supposed to be easy and obvious. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper of the soul that nudges us in a new direction. Into a new way of thinking or being or showing up.

It feels impossible and overwhelming, because we’re often nowhere near the person we need to be in order to bring that vision to life. I’m certainly nowhere near the person I need to be to resolve the kind of depression that makes people choose to leave. To grab for the hands of the lost and broken and give them the tools they need to not only thrive, but contribute in a big, meaningful way.

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This is the point of stepping it up.

We have to actually step. it. up.

Callings don’t find us when we’re perfectly aligned and ready to do the work. That’s not how it goes. Callings find us when we’re close enough to a starting point that we can begin to make sense of the whispers and nudges and signs. When we’ve been through enough life and living and experiencing to see the vision for what it is. To understand all that it has the power to become. And that can be so freaking far from the finish line it’s not even funny.

I’ve watched one of my very best friends bring a vision to life, one painfully confusing and frustrating day at a time. Listening to a call that nudged him into something he didn’t know how to do… leading him to create something truly phenomenal, different, and needed.

He stepped it up.
Even when he didn’t know how.
Even when it was hard and frustrating.
Even when it stretched him in challenging ways.

Stepping it up isn’t easy. It’s terrifying… and I know that all too well. When I first felt the call to “find myself and my passion,” I was terrified. I had no idea how to do that, and it meant leaving behind all that was known and comfortable. Even if I wasn’t happy, it was known. I could do stuck and unhappy with my eyes closed. Stepping it up meant getting honest about what wasn’t working and what needed to change. And it meant diving deep into the unknown to rediscover myself and what I was put here to do with my life.

It was hard, but I don’t regret one single moment of that journey.

Which is why whenever I hear a clear call to move in a new, powerful, terrifying direction, I listen. I heed the call. I take the first tiny actions to uncover its meaning and lean in a little bit more every day. I find the courage and the resilience to venture down it’s path. I step it up, every single day.

It’s changed my life. It made me became clear on where I am heading with my career and now it’s all falling into place. I can see it going just the way I dreamed of. I’m full of ideas and creativity now and I can put those ideas into practice. I’ve got my fire back. I’m excited, happy and full of energy. Thank you.

— Charlie Oswin