RAW, HONESTAND BLAZINGWITH CONFIDENCEThe concept of vulnerability has truly taken the world by storm. Brene Brown, the queen of the vulnerability movement, puts it so eloquently:

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

I’m a sucker for vulnerability. It had definitely transformed my life. But I’m a real sucker for hearing other people’s vulnerability. Not in a sadistic way, but in a loving, kind-hearted ‘oh, so good to know I’m not alone!’ kinda-way.

I know I’m not the only one either – a lot of the feedback I’m getting for ‘I am a Trailblazer‘ is the love for the raw, honest stories I’ve shared in there. They have appeared to deeply resonate with my gorgeous readers. So I thought, why not share some more?

I asked a group of bloggers (from the amazing Rachel’s #BlogHearted tribe no less) to share their stories on a time they experienced a blow to their confidence. I asked them to be as open and honest as possible. To not only share the blow, but what they did to bounce back.

I’m in awe of these women – they have given the most raw, soul-opening accounts. So courageous. And yet, their stories are all too familiar.

I have no doubt at least one of these stories will deeply resonate with you. They might make you go – “Oh, that is soooo me!”. That my friend, is vulnerability at it’s finest.

I got such an overwhelming response so I’ve decided to break this into a few blog posts. I will be sharing these over the next few days.

Grab a cuppa and settle in. Be inspired by these beautiful women, because I sure am.

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headshotLOUISE“Something that recently tested my confidence was writing and publishing a blog post where I ‘came out’ about having depression.

Although several of my close friends and family have known about my depression for many years, some of them had no idea. Not to mention all the colleagues, acquaintances, and traveling friends who were all likely to come across the post once I advertised it on my personal Facebook page.

Pressing ‘publish’ on my blog (which was read by few people at the time) was a lot less scary than pressing ‘post’ when I advertised the story on Facebook. I was wavering in my self-confidence about my story, and fearful that people might think differently of me.

I overcame this by reminding myself that if anyone thought differently of me after reading my post, and it cast me into a negative light in their eyes – then they probably weren’t someone who I really wanted in my life anyway! I also read and re-read Brene Brown’s quote “Owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do”. I also got clear on the need I was meeting by publishing the post – authenticity. It was about being real, and being proud of being who I am – once I remembered this I felt a lot more confident.

The benefit of believing in myself and my story has been the amount of people who have been touched by my post. I received a bunch of messages, from family, friends and strangers who all said they were proud of me, they were touched by my words, or they’d been in a similar situation themselves and could really relate to what I wrote. And a lot of them shared the post with their friends and family, which means ever more people saw my message!

But more than that, I think it was another layer of healing for me – a very strong message to myself that I accept, love and honour every part of me – including the part with depression. It’s a relief not to feel like that part of me is a dirty secret anymore. It’s liberating. And now I feel more inspired than ever to continue on with my mission of changing the way depression and mental illness is managed in our society, by advocating for a more holistic approach including exercise and nutrition.

Louise Pontin – The Whole Health Connection
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me“As a shy, private person one of the biggest testaments of my confidence has been putting myself out there and starting my blog.

It may not seem like a large feat to someone else but I have always struggled with showing my truth, showing up as myself, whole-heartedly, authentically and last but not least confidently. My past self-esteem was pretty low; I lead myself down a path of my own abuse and self-destruction. I have suffered with an eating disorder, I used to mentally berate myself daily and I used to desperately seek attention from guys. I wanted to have the model body, the “hot” boyfriend and the outgoing, guys-tripping-over-me personality.

You would have never known I felt that way or that I was suffering, I hid myself well. Although I had started to heal and gain some self-confidence (in a somewhat superficial way) around age 25, my major healing started three years ago after I lost my Dad suddenly and shockingly to cancer. Everything in my world shifted.

I didn’t want that superficial connection with myself anymore.

I craved something deeper, something more meaningful and true; I craved my own self-acceptance. 

Through my Dad’s death I gained a new perspective on life. I said enough is enough, I didn’t want to wait anymore until I thought I was perfect, I realized perfect is right now, where I am this exact moment in time. Through a lot of self-love practices, yoga, meditation, and a whole lot of spirituality I came into myself. I blossomed; I started to heal myself from the inside out, I started reading other blogs and learning about holistic health, intuitive eating, mindfulness and affirmations. I repeated this to myself daily: “I love and accept myself, I am beautiful and I am worthy”

The benefits? I am happier, healthier, radiant and confident in my truth and myself! I still have self-doubt moments (won’t we always) but here I am blogging away, sharing my stories and my experiences (the up’s and the down’s) with the world.

 I want to shine my light and love and inspire others to believe that no matter what obstacles they are faced with happiness is always a choice within you.

I choose to be happy and no one can take that away from me. I am confidently going after my big, bold, passionate dreams and that feels so good.

Lyndsey Eden
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Loveday and Kris low res-251 copyshort“When I was 17, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. I won’t go into the exhaustive (and exhausting!) list of symptoms, but I was bedridden for the most part of two years.

There were many days when showering was a huge event and I’d sleep for the rest of the day. I was often unable to even speak. On the threshold of adulthood, I felt betrayed by my body, abandoned by friends, who had their own lives to lead, and deserted by my own life.

A small upturn occurred after those first two years and through brute determination – not a path I recommend! – I hauled myself through uni only to be, yes you guessed it, smacked down hard after graduation. I replayed the same old bleak story, but this time with less faith and more resignation.

Despite my memory being severely affected, I vividly recall my turning point. A wonderful but totally not right for me boyfriend asked me to marry him and I decided to accept, simply because he could ‘provide for me.’ I figured I could wait out my life until I died. Insane on so many levels, not least because I’m a feminist! At exactly the same time as I pronounced this protracted death sentence, a tiny voice whispered inside me: ‘Don’t give up. I’m still here.

That was the voice of my intuition, my ‘Baubo’ belly-thinking goddess, my true self! The only one who hadn’t given up on me. And my relationship with her is what I now honour and thank my illness for.

Hearing my true voice started me off on a healing journey of raw foods, meditation and yoga. The discovery that all along I had nutrient malabsorption and enzyme deficiency leading to something like malnutrition was eye-opening. As was how far I had drifted from my core values, from earth connection and from my wild spirit.

Healing is an ongoing process but I can say now that I am completely physically well. I have regained trust in my body and I look with love and tenderness on those ten years of illness. But, more importantly, I am psychically, intuitively stronger. I turn up gently and openly as my fully realized self. And the true joy of this is that now I can share my experience honestly. In my work, I encourage others to listen to that voice, to cultivate a relationship with the belly-thinking self that knows she is in connection with all things.

– Loveday Why: Wild&Good
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ArienneGorlach“As I stared down at the blurry tiles through my tears, I wondered how I’d gotten here (‘Here’ being the foetal position on the bathroom floor – yep…programmed by movies).

How did that bubbly girl who often got complimented on her beaming smile get to this place where she was contemplating ending the opportunity to ever smile again?

Anxiety had arrived in my 26th year like a tsunami and blew up my existence. I became shattered. Scattered. Scared. A shell of my former vivacious and outwardly ‘successful’ self. I existed in constant fight-or-flight mode. I could hardly eat or sleep or work or feel anything but extreme fear. I was wearing ‘shit-coloured glasses’ (and dammit, I wanted those rose ones).

Confidence = tested. Non-existent even. Throughout this time I desperately needed all the people in my life to tell me that I would be okay and that they believed in me because I surely didn’t.

On what felt like my hundredth time on that floor I said hello to rock-bottom. I. COULD. NOT. DO. THIS. ANY.MORE. There was just too much pain and exhaustion.

There was a quiet voice in the midst of all this that I would hear whispers of. I could barely make it out but sometimes I’d hear words like LOVE or BELIEVE but they’d be quickly drowned out by the tsunami.

When I picked myself up off the floor that morning it was because that voice finally connected with me {insert life-affirming-but-long dialogue here}. Ultimately, with a tiny spark of self-belief, I chose life.

I saw the anxiety as the universe’s freakin’ painful wake-up-call-to-arms. That the glimpses I’d had of a bright future were possible. That I could finally stand up in my life and discover Me – believe in Me – to craft a life around Me.

The road from the bottom was bumpy, but through positive action out of self-discovery, I built my strength, my resilience, my healing and my self-belief.

That confidence is a voice and a muscle I’ve been growing ever since. It has allowed me to take the leap into working for myself, meeting the man I married, going on adventures I love and basking in the luxury of being Me every glorious day. With it, I navigate the challenges and have built a life I love and help others build theirs. This journey would have been impossible without learning to deeply hear and cultivate that voice.

The beaming smile? It’s back! Wider, deeper and this time, truly soul-encompassing.

– Arienne Gorlach
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Amazing huh? Part 2 coming tomorrow!

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