Happy New Year, Hivery Community! We kicked off 2018 with the January 8th Hivery Circle, which brought together several incredible women to share on the topic of renewal. For this month’s blog, I’d like to share a few of my words from that night on this very important topic. Wishing you all kindness, creativity, and community this year and always.
At the start of every year, those who are curious, energized, and thoughtful look both introspectively and outside for what the New Year brings. For many of us, these new beginnings bring with them a sense of RENEWAL.
Definition of RENEW: to make (something) new, fresh, or strong again. : to make (a promise, vow, etc.) again. : to begin again especially with more energy or enthusiasm.
And yet, to renew, to begin again, to continue to evolve—it isn’t always the easiest path, is it? Complacency seems easier and at first less painful, but it can also be the root of agony. Stagnation causes heartbreak. It’s the desire to be our fullest selves that draws us into the topic of renewal.
Through years of talking with and coaching women looking to create change in their lives (at the start of the year, or otherwise), I’ve been in the very lucky position of getting to observe traits that lead to lasting change.
Here are five truths I’ve learned about transformation:
#1. Change often starts in the muck, the mess, the heartbreak. The energy to create change comes from a dissatisfaction with the status quo. Some of the greatest transformation that I’ve seen from women at The Hivery began with being in a puddle on the floor. In which case, I’ve been known to say, “I know this is agony right now. And the timing might seem terrible for me to be saying this to you. But, I’m excited for you...you have to be broken open and deeply vulnerable in order to get to the center of your own soul.”
#2. We often refuse transformation or renewal due to insecurity and fear. (i.e. We have the power to make our own transformation a negative, and conversely we have the power to work through that refusal.) Throughout various stages of transformation, it’s often us who create the barriers to change. Barriers like, “I’m too old. I won’t make enough money. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have enough time. I have too many other responsibilities.” These are all great ways to get in our own way. That internal mind chatter can be our most powerful and listened-to voice.
Successful transformation occurs—not when we rid ourselves of that voice (as that is most often not realistic)—but when we learn to recognize the voice for what it is (fear) and develop the emotional fitness to keep moving forward anyway.
#3. Transformation comes from a willingness to do the work. As Joseph Campbell used to say, “Dragons have to be slain again and again.” I spent years as a ballet dancer, and trained intensively for almost 20 years. I learned early on that I could want to be a “good” ballet dancer all day long, and I could read books about it, and fantasize about being onstage, and talk about it with anyone who would listen. But, the reality was that the only way to be a good ballet dancer was to show up, take class, and dance, even (or especially) when I didn’t feel like it.
I wish there was another way. But, transformation requires work. And, not just “sometimes” work, but consistent work. Work doesn’t have to look like sweat. It can look like commitment to self, creative ritual, or morning meditation. But, the commitment piece is non-negotiable. You get what you pay for in the transformation department, and showing up is the most important part.
#4. Real change occurs when we become willing to not know the outcome. If you’re looking for a clear, chartered path where everything is proven and knowable, you will wait your whole life to step into yourself. The beauty of living fully is that you trust your intuition enough to live bravely. Transformation often feels like being on the edge of a cliff, looking out at a dark abyss with only the light of some twinkling stars to tantalize you forward. You don’t want to turn around and retreat, even though it would be safer and more familiar territory. But, launching into the unknown is scary, too.
True transformation comes when you are willing to let go of what is comfortable and known in order to step into the next chapter. Not knowing the outcome and trusting anyway is the creative process, and lasting change cannot be made without acceptance of the mystery of what is ahead.
#5. Transformation is often not an explosion. Real transformation is a soft opening of the heart and the head that begins and ends with self-love. Transformation won’t strike you on a Tuesday and hold you in its’ grip for all the days of your life. Transformation is a process that washes through you, creating introspection, exploration, forgiveness, compassion, delight, and ultimately self-love.
I’ll leave you with a story that showed me the way to realizing the importance of self-love these past few years. It was a gift to me through a series of dreams that were initially perplexing, and then eventually provided some much-needed guidance.
My mom passed away nearly seven years ago. For a couple years after she died, I felt like I’d lost her completely. She hadn’t visited me in a dream, I couldn’t conjure her face up over the oceans, I couldn’t feel her presence...or so I thought...and I craved that connection. I was envious when people talked about being “visited” by a loved one who had passed; that seemed like an impossibility for me.
But, simultaneously, and for years, I’d be woken up from a dream with a voice saying, “I love you. I love you. I love you.”... and for years it would startle me awake. Until one morning around 3 am, when I heard it again and again inside my own head. I thought I was going crazy. I could “feel” my mother’s presence, but was confused because it wasn’t her voice. Who was it? Repeating those words again and again? As I listened deeply, half-asleep, half-trying to figure this out, it was my voice. It was my sub-conscience reassuring me. I’ve always felt that it was the spirit of my mom who told me what I most needed to know. That it was not her love that I needed the most, it was my own.
Love of any variety is a dichotomy of beauty and agony...self-love is no different. It can be painful and might feel like it needs to be shoved away, due to the ego or our fear of being self-absorbed, or our fear of not being enough for the only “you” you have. But, the ability to love ourselves is the single most impactful ingredient to the transformation of who you really are. Without it, you are simply an observer on the ride and revelation of your truest self.
The desire to make personal, impactful change in one’s life is not enough on its’ own. With the exploration and commitment of these five truths, the adventure, joy, and magic of creating transformative change can become something that inspires and fuels you, long after the New Year’s excitement and resolutions have faded. Enjoy the bold and beautiful (albeit sometimes bumpy) journey of becoming who you really are.
Another Look at The Hivery Circle:
Renewal for Mind, Body, and Spirit
photography thanks to Kim Thompson Steel