Honesty + Courage = Freedom

I have this life formula for myself, which is Honesty + Courage = Freedom.

So, first getting really honest with myself regarding what I want in life, what I don’t want, who or what is bringing me negative energy, and so on.

And then, secondly, summoning up that courage to take the oftentimes scary step of putting that honest revelation into action.

And I have always found, that no matter what the result or the outcome, letting go of that fear and taking the brave step makes me feel FREE.

With that in mind, I think it’s really worthwhile to explore fear. Because fear is often what keeps us trapped inside a box, held down, and restrained from doing the things that are actually what would bring fulfillment to our lives.

(Side note: Exploring fear is exactly what we did in Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Soul’s Work Podcast! Listen here.)

And the crazy thing that always blows my mind, when I think about it, is that maybe at first it’s more so the external world — society and people outside of us — who are the ones trying to restrict us inside this little box.

Perhaps, they tell us: You should be this way. You shouldn’t do that. Don’t go for that dream, because it won’t get you anywhere. Blah, blah, blah …

And I liken it to them throwing us into a jail cell. (Not to be overly dramatic, but that’s gonna be our metaphor for today, okay?).

So, they’ve thrown us into this metaphorical jail cell, and they’ve locked the door behind us with one of those giant, old school jail keys. That’s the picture in my mind.

But as time goes by, we start to internalize those beliefs that the external world has been bombarding us with.

We no longer need anyone else feeding us those perceptions anymore (although, of course, that external pressure lives on!).

Because, for a lot of us, we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve taken ownership of those fearful beliefs.

They’ve become so internalized, ingrained within us, that we hold onto those self-limiting beliefs as our own thoughts.

And that, to me, is the worst kind of loss of freedom. It’s like when you’re in a mental prison inside your own head.

And so, even if our jail keeper slipped us the key through the bars and walked away from guard duty, we might just stay sitting in that cell.

Because we’ve been in there for so long, and we’ve come to believe that that’s where we should be, that’s all we know.

And it doesn’t matter that we’re now holding the key right in the palm of our hand.

Because we’ve become afraid of what will happen should we unlock that cell door, and walk out into what has now become an unknown and uncertain world beyond our little box.

So, I think that honesty is about coming to the realization that we do want more and deserve more than just staying in that little box.

And courage is like the next step, where we find the strength — despite how fearful we are of that unknown world beyond the jail cell — to take that key, unlock the cell door, swing it wide open, and walk out of that box, free.

So, Honesty + Courage = Freedom

And the good news — the amazingly fantastic news — is that we absolutely do hold that key in our hand.

Lots of love and self-love,
Janice ❤

P.S. Listen to “Episode 2: Honesty” of The Soul’s Work Podcast here. Then, follow up with “Episode 3: Courage (& Fear)” here!

Dear Fear …

dear_fear_featured_image

In Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Soul’s Work Podcast, I share a letter that I wrote to Fear in my quest to develop a different, more compassionate, relationship with Fear. Here is that letter:

Dear Fear,

I want to apologize. I haven’t treated you so well for most of my life. Whenever you’ve tried to talk to me, I’ve reacted by resenting you, sometimes hating you, and wishing that you would just go away entirely. I’m sorry. You must have felt really rejected, maybe even abused sometimes.

‘Cause the thing that I realize clearly now is that you have only been trying to help me. Your intention has not been to ruin my life. You just want to protect me, to keep me safe, because you care about my wellbeing.

And I guess I kind of acted like that rebellious teenager, who butts heads and fights with their overbearing parent. But I understand that, like any parent, you’re just doing your job. You didn’t even ask for that job. You just got sent over to my brain for fear duty. And quite frankly, I didn’t ask for you either. But here we are, together. And we always will be.

So, now I want to have an adult, heart-to-heart conversation with you. Here’s the thing. There are definitely going to be times in my life when I need you. Like if I’m backcountry camping and a big ass bear jumps out at me in the woods, Fear, I need you step the fuck up. I need you to help me whip out that bear spray and go all Revenant on its ass.

But Fear, there’s a whole lot of other situations where you can stand down. At ease, soldier. ‘Cause we got our sister friends over here, too — we got Honesty and Courage — and they’re also here to help out when I need them.

So, during those times, when I ask you: “Hey Fear, this is one of those situations where my life isn’t being threatened. It’s really not as serious as you think it is. Here, have a seat in this comfy chair. I’d offer you some wine … to sedate you … but that might not be the best idea. So, here’s a warm cup of tea. Enjoy it.

And I just respectfully ask that you let Honesty, Courage, and I have a conversation right now. And you know what? I bet if you take some time to just quietly listen to what they have to say, you might actually feel comforted by their words, and realize that they’ve got this. We’re all gonna be okay.

Thank you so much, Fear, for being there for me, but also for giving me the space I need now to grow.

With love and gratitude,

Janice

(You can listen to Episode 3: Courage (& Fear) of The Souls Work Podcast on: Apple PodcastsSoundCloud | Stitcher | Google Play | PlayerFM | Please leave a rating and review to help others find the show! ❤)

Unveiled

I don’t indulge in many podcasts, but when I do get in the mood for some good talks, I love tuning in to The Motivational Millennial Podcast.

I find that I always leave with some newfound wisdom or encouragement to do better for myself, whether it’s related to work life or my personal development.

Well, today, I wanted to share my reflections on their finale episode for Season 1, which was all about the sometimes fear-inducing topic of vulnerability.

As Blake and Ivy mention, we typically regard vulnerability as an unfavourable state that should be avoided at all costs.

I even noticed that the thesaurus tends to paints vulnerability in a negative light, pairing it with words like unsafe, weak, threatened.

But then, one other synonym caught my eye: Unveiled.

For me, the idea of an “unveiling” conjures up the image of uncovering something special hidden underneath the shroud that has been masking it.

For example, an exquisite piece of art may be unveiled at the grand opening of an exhibit. The cloth that had been draped over the artwork was but a sheath to hide the beautiful masterpiece underneath.

In many ways, we live covered up under layers of our own mask — a mask stitched together with elements of fear, insecurity, shame, and guilt.

And the longer our magnificent artwork remains hidden, the more we forget what it looks like.

What were those brilliant shades of colour that brought our creation to life? What were the details in the drawing — the lines here, the curves there, the bold strokes, the faded etches — that made our picture whole?

The more layers we pile on top of our masterpiece, the heavier the shroud becomes and the more effort it takes to strip it away.

But there’s good news, if you take this analogy one step further. It also means that you — the authentic You — is completely separate from the mask you wear on top of it.

In other words, the mask — all of the negative self-perceptions you hold close to you — is actually not a part of who you truly are.

And like a physical mask, if you remove it from yourself, it doesn’t take anything away from you as person. If anything, the authentic You shines brighter. You have the freedom to finally be seen, unveiled.

You can listen to the podcast episode on Vulnerability to gain more insights into how making yourself vulnerable actually strengthens you.

In the meantime, have the courage to at least take a peek at what’s under the veil. Reconnect with the masterpiece that you are. Remind yourself of the colours and details that make you whole.

And if you’re feeling extra brave, fling that veil off altogether and celebrate the freedom of sharing your authentic self with the rest of the world!

Lots of love & self-love,
Janice xo

The Non-Epiphany

So, I had an epiphany over the last two days. Maybe not an epiphany – because an epiphany implies a discovery of something completely new, unthought of before. And I don’t think this is a new revelation. It’s more of an uncovering, or acceptance even, of something that I suspect was always there.

What was always there was my true and ULTIMATE passion in life, and — dare I say it, I’m gonna say it — my calling: To sing. To create music. To express music. To share music with others.

It came about from continuously encountering the question of what that thing was that got me truly impassioned and excited. That thing that I would devote my time and energy to — because my heart said I must — even if I wasn’t getting paid to do it.

At the time, I had been working on developing my website NatureImmersed, and was right at the start of what I determined to be a new career path in writing. But the first thing that came to mind after being confronted with those questions was not writing. It was singing.

Singing. Is. My. Calling. It feels pretty weird to utter it aloud, even though in some ways it should be pretty logical given how completely in love I was with singing as a young child, that I once dreamed of becoming a singer, and that I have found that writing and singing music is the highest form of creative and personal expression for me.

Hm, I guess life and self-doubt have a serious way of repressing your true passions, and convincing you that they’re not really what you’re meant to do.

So, does this mean that I want to become a singer singer? The kind of singer that records albums, goes on performance tours, and – yes – promotes their music? I still don’t know, to be honest.

I think a huge reason for shying away from this path is that it’s always felt too self-promotional for my tastes. I know that my life’s work needs to be helping others and making this world just a bit better than if I hadn’t been in it. Plus, I’m too introverted to constantly be on a stage. Can’t I just write music and record it from my little cave for people to hear?

But lately I have been rethinking, reframing, the way I look at singing and sharing my music.

Writing, in general, is important to me because I want to communicate to others words of inspiration, learning and encouragement. The same can be done through songwriting. A dear singer-songwriter in our music community named Christine Gaiddes promoted just this and lived it through her music before she sadly passed away in 2016. The world needs more songs of love, compassion and hope, as she shared with us.

I am also a huge believer in allowing ourselves to feel — whether those are emotions of sadness, joy, anger, sensuality, or hopefulness. I think one of the greatest travesties in this world is how much people repress their feelings, even self-criticize and self-shame for experiencing them. By putting my own emotions — completely unfiltered — out there on the stage when I sing, I hope to give others permission to just feel.

So, I have no idea where this non-epiphany will lead me, but I’m going to open my heart to it in the same way I have to starting a new career path and new way of living in nature. Let’s see where the journey takes us …