Strength that doesn't sacrifice

I have long abandoned writing blogs this year….

The crush and intensity of my year became a lot to navigate through - more on that later - but I felt the call to return to this space…

My first blog post in a long time comes from a clarity that arose in me during one of my favourite self care experiences - salt-water “floating.”  

Floating is something I love to do because it gives me the space, without distraction, where I can tune into what is happening in my inner world, where I can give myself a recharge physically, mentally, and spiritually from the consuming external world of my life.

This year has been a trying one for me in many ways, and one of the biggest lessons of this year for me was the necessity to hold a greater awareness and care of myself.

As a default work-horse, I am often someone who has no problem working hard for long hours, day in and day out. I love my work, and also as a typical eldest-child/responsible one, I am driven by something that says I must be responsible and, to me, that looks like working hard.

This all frequently comes to the detriment of myself, not just physically, but mentally, spiritually and emotionally as well.

2016 was one of the hardest years of my life - that’s something I will be writing about in depth in days to come. 2016 was a year that tested a belief I have long since held in myself.

Being strong looks like I need to sacrifice myself…

So this week while I was in the float tank, this belief came bubbling to the surface and I realized how exhausted I was of holding strength this way. It was depleting me.

I also had no idea what else strength looked like…. And in writing this I am still opening to find that anchor and here is what has currently arisen.

Strength looks like flow….

Strength looks like the courage to put ourselves first.

Strength is kindness, self-care, and love towards ourselves.

Strength is found in surrendering our burdens to a greater container and trusting it to hold us.

Strength is found in the embrace of our own inner happiness and joy.

Another layer….

I lost my grandmother at the tender age of 10. She was a figure in my life that held a strong and special container for me.

Death at a young age is not something we know how to be with. It’s not something we are taught.

As I was sitting with the curiosity of where this initial seed of strength through sacrifice happened, I was triggered by a memory of the loss of my grandmother.

An innocence was lost for me that day…. Something in me broke…. And a shell was created of protection. And in that moment, I sacrificed something in myself.

And so became the pattern.

I then remembered the years I spent working in the horse breeding industry, where my physical and emotional well being were walled with an expectation of who I needed to be in the barn, so I wouldn’t be fired, or so I could handle the demands of the industry.

Death surrounded me, my gentle sensitive heart was exposed to things that felt harsh until numbness took over…

Or in my mind… strength…

The layers of strength kept going when I began my journey as an entrepreneur taking on responsibilities of caring for my own herd of horses, a facility, a home, bills and all as the sole provider.

There was no room for weakness. No room to wallow in my fears or doubts.

I had to be strong…

So again the layer of strength manifested itself as the pushing aside of emotions I was feeling, a sacrifice to my emotional well being because I had to be strong enough to hold space for everything.

As I embarked this past weekend on my yearly recharge trip to the island I realized how exhausted I was.

Bone deep exhaustion.

It went deep into all parts of me.

But more deeply, I was tired of holding strength in such an unbalanced way…

It was cutting me off from feeling, from honoring all pieces of me instead of just letting things come slightly enough so it didn’t cripple me from ignoring them but not enough to erode this vision of strength I held in my mind…

My sisters commented this year as people watched me navigate through expansion and growth in all ways that… “No one ever worries about you, Hillary… You are the strong one.”

There is a part of me that is tired of being the strong one…

Well, the version of strength that is held by appearing to have everything together all the time, or rising through challenge after challenge like a warrior who is immune to the wound that is bleeding from her side.

I have had enough.

Strength has been forged into my very being, but there is softness, an underbelly that is wanting to be held alongside it.

A visit from my mares in meditation reminded me of the strength that comes from honoring the emotional under current of our beings, where our intuition takes over from the brute strength we channel to get ourselves through.

Where we can often sacrifice our softness because we don't view it as strength - where the world doesn’t view it as strength.

As someone who was equally praised as being strong, and being criticized for being too sensitive, I have had to find a way to mask myself in an armour of strength that left no room for questioning from others if I was capable or not.

There have been many times where I have hidden the depths of my own fears, of questioning myself or my strength because I felt I didn’t have the room to hold them. Where grief, anger, sadness raged in me but instead of letting myself feel them as deeply as they were there, I settled for an image of calmness on top of them.

Until I got exhausted.

Until I realized I was ready for something else.

Something more kinder and sweeter to me…

Where strength doesn’t sacrifice or consume but where it holds, flows and strengthens the connections, the creations and the vessel in which holds it.

Which is me…

I am reminded as I write this of the journey of the snake that sheds its skin many times over, outgrowing what no longer serves it.

What I recognize is that the strength I have carried and held for most of my life has served its purpose. It got me here…

And now it’s time for it to be transformed, to evolve. And I must allow it.

To give life to the erosion of a belief that no longer feels true to me.

The last few days I have pulled a card from one of my decks that says come to the edge….

And I feel the resonance of that.

An invitation to go deeper, to open even more to the depth of my own being and this barrier of strength is keeping me from that.

It must be transformed to allow it.

To give space to it…

And, I have learned to listen to those edges, to those transformations that are taking place. Because they lay the groundwork for the desires and destined unfoldings of our paths that are wanting to come.

The seeds of abundance, greater fulfillment, of love, of purpose have been planted and if we want to manifest what we seek, we have to do the inner work to hold it.

I recognize this truth and I honor it…

So as I retreat to the ocean, to the wildness and raw power of coast, I stay curious, open and available for the shedding to occur, to make space for, to open and to honor where my spirit is calling me forth.

Even if a part of me doesn’t know how or is afraid to…

I know there is a part of me that does.

So do you….

If you resonate with this post, if you are being called to be vulnerable in the beliefs and spaces you hold yourself - I invite you to share, to be a witness to a calling of your own spirit, to listen, to be open, to transform and to trust that in the holding of it you get closer to what you are yearning to create in your life.

We are meant to evolve. We are not meant to stay static or to hold tight to how we think we need to be.

We are meant to be fluid, to honor our transformations as equally as the rest of nature does and to remember there is a part of us that has the intuition and intelligence to step into the transformation that sings to us.

And sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

Thanks for the reminder…

Your coach and guide and purpose seeker,

If you like what you read and would like to receive more letters of inspiration and calling forth on the path of purpose, join me on my list, or in my Soul Tribe group on Facebook.

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