The ongoing journey of self-worth

You were born with an intact sense of self. 

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However, early on, we are indoctrinated into ideas about worthiness that lead us to believe that worth is to be found outside of ourselves -- in how we are perceived and received by those around us: another’s assessment or gaze or our monetary value or the work we do or our beauty. 

This focus on recognition is the air we breathe.

Consider gender bias, not to mention racial and sexual bias — consider all the ways society narrowly defines who and what is worthy or most often, unworthy. Then there are the insidious ideas and lived experience of needing to “earn” your keep, needing to perform, being expected to be pleasing (or not), or to be quiet, having your ideas dismissed, diminished or worse, stolen. And the hits keep rolling, don't they? 

Let's not forget the ever-present societal focus on beauty: body shape, size and image, looks and fashion that keep many women from the very real work of speaking up, making a powerful contribution, or simply living fully out of a sense of shame and unworthiness. If you aren't beautiful or perfect by some nebulous standard of beauty, no one wants to hear from you. 

Every day reminders abound that to be worthy you must be something other than who you are. It's all such profound bullshit, isn't it?

This dynamic is changing and being challenged, thank all that is holy and good. Yet it is so important to remember and to recognize that it isn't just you. That alone, in my experience, can loosen the chains. Because often, self-worth (or lack thereof) is viewed as a personal failing, but, if you grow up in western society, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to have a real sense of your true and innate worthiness unless you’re willing to reject societal norms to some degree. 

Sad secret: NO ONE feels worthy in this system. 

Not even the people who think they are writing the rules of worth. Why? Because worth cannot be defined by someone else, by a society, or by what we accumulate or do.

Worth doesn’t need to be earned. It’s who you are.

The work that the women I know have done to heal from these damaging ideas and circumstances is breathtaking — and, I’ve not met a woman for whom it’s truly done and over. We continue to dance with healing self-worth on an individual and collective level, perhaps in perpetuity. At least for now.

Most people, for some period of time, try hard to meet those societal expectations. I know I sure did. Of course we want to believe that if all of the ever-changing requirements are met, then a sense of worthiness will magically be ours. Many people stay locked in this game their whole lives and my hypothesis is that this is why addiction runs rampant in our culture — because addiction is a reasonable response to wanting to be seen and celebrated for who we are, but not knowing how to cultivate those qualities because we are told our worth - and every good thing in life -- lies outside of ourselves. 

My guess is that you are beyond believing these lies.

That you, like I, discovered at some point that no matter what milestone you reached (more money, better hair, fixed teeth, the right weight, the big house, a killer wardrobe, the PhD, the job…. name your own) that any sense of worthiness and accomplishment was fleeting at best. But even knowing that, and moving past much of it, there are likely places where you experience a lingering lack of self-worth. In other words, you may still be pinning your desire for an embodied sense of self-worth on external validation. 

In any case, knowing that there is no external reference point for self-worth is very good news — because that means you are, and have been, moving closer to a living embodiment of the truth about self-worth: self-worth is something that you can only find within you. 

Your WHY is everything.

There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting the PhD, wanting to be strong and sleek, to wanting the job or to be fired up to be in the movie. In fact, I believe with all my heart we are here to create, to express ourselves, to master our chosen work, to move in the direction of our desires, hopes and dreams. To experience all that we are capable of and what is possible as a human. However, the difference in why you want something -- for external praise and validation or because it will bring you joy -- changes everything. 

The difference between wanting those things so you feel differently about yourself or so you get recognized by others versus doing it because you feel an impulse and a desire and an excitement within you -- those two motivations are worlds apart. The experienced results are vastly different as well: the former will leave you feeling empty and hungry for more while the latter is a celebration of you and all that you are. 

The Invitation: Choose yourSelf

I suspect you know first hand how it feels to do something to fill a sense of lack vs. something done because it is yours to do and you do it joyfully. Just off the top of my head I can name jobs, relationships, entire careers, ways I've shown up in public, and how I exercise and eat -- where I Intimately know the difference between showing up inspired and in alignment with mySelf versus doing it to fill a gaping hole in my sense of worth.

So get close to yourself -- what does it feel like? What is the difference for you between these two states of being? Embrace this vast range of experience with an open and compassionate heart. No matter how much you've done for glory, love or recognition vs. inspired action that is aligned with your heart, you have learned and grown. It is part of the journey. Those experiences and that wisdom is yours.  

And, you get to choose. I choose to practice aligning with my heart and soul. I've had enough of that aching empty feeling when the recognition and praise stops and I'm left with only myself. Maybe you are done with that, too. By acting in alignment with your own wisdom and your own sense of what you value and who you want to be and what you want to contribute to the world, you are guaranteed to amplify your sense of self-worth through your actions and feel good about the results no matter who else likes it or recognizes what you've done. 

Make no mistake, this is a powerful state of being in which to move through the world. Whole, sovereign, and worthy. Let's keep moving in that direction, together.

Tell me everything.

Where are you on your journey of self-worth? What are you noticing about the tension between seeking external praise and validation versus turning inward and seeking your own approval? What frontiers are you exploring on your journey to a greater sense of self-worth? 

xo.nona


Come, Practice with Me.

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The Art of Intentional Practice

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Practice gets a bad rap.

I've heard the gamut of responses to the idea of "practice"  -- from spiritual transcendence to athletic performance to dreadful, dull and boring repetitive action. 

In actuality, you are practicing every moment of every day. Consciously or unconsciously, you are practicing your responses, your actions and your reactions. You are practicing your best and your worst qualities by simply doing what you do, over and over. This ultimately defines the quality of your life.

However, done intentionally, practice can be a potent and reliable ally in real and reliable transformation. 

Intentional practice is the key.

Intentional practice is about making a different choice -- disruption of the status quo in your actions. Intentional practice has a vision. Intentional practice is also fluid and deeply connected to the present moment and what is working. 

Intentional practice means you are practicing something that is incredibly important to you be it abundance, peace, health, self-expression, connection, or success and, done right, you are practicing in ways that hold tremendous value for you and the woman you wish to be today and tomorrow. 

Who do you want to be? 

This is a valuable question, and, certainly you can be no one but yourself. There is nothing to fix or mend, intentional practice is about peeling back the layers of who you aren't to reveal and polish that diamond that you are. 

  • I want to be a woman who embodies generosity and abundance.
  • I want to be a woman who is strong physically, mentally and emotionally. 
  • I want to be a woman who speaks up and speaks the truth. 
  • I want to be a woman who uses and celebrates my innate gifts and talents.
  • I want to be a woman who loves deeply and lives close to my own knowing. 
  • I want to be a woman who makes a powerful contribution in the lives of others. 


These are examples of who I want to be each and every day and how I practice. And in showing up for this vision of myself and supporting other women over the years, here is the secret I've learned; if you want something (like YOU really want it, it isn't something you've been told you *should* want) it is already burning within you. It is already yours

All you have to do is practice. 

How to be intentional in practice. 

Value your practice -- elevate it's importance. The biggest objection I hear is that people don't have time. Yes, you do. I understand that this can feel like a monumental shift but it is critical -- you, and your intentional practice, is for you and you alone. It is time for you to affirm and embody your desires as a priority. This, right here, changes everything. Make the time. Put yourself first as a radical act of elevating the importance of who you most wish to be and how you most wish to feel as you move through the world. 

Be willing to fail. Let go of perfection. Failure is a part of any good process. To be great at anything means understanding and knowing the contrast intimately. Expect and welcome failure as the teacher that it is. We all know intellectually that failure is a powerful teacher. Welcome failure with grace, instead of beating yourself with the idea of perfection.  

You aren't there yet, so keep your attention where you are right now. Intentional practice is about having a powerful vision, but keeping your eyes and your attention fixed on getting to your vision of success is a recipe for misery. As badly as we might wish for an end-game and a final completion, it typically doesn't exist. We are constantly evolving and changing and until you die, I hope you will be engaged in your sacred practice. Yes, have a vision, but let your attention rest in the day to day doing. 

Appreciate how far you've come and how it feels in the doing. It is vital to take time to acknowledge how far you've come. Take time to take in how good it feels to take action that is aligned with the woman you know you are and that you are becoming. So yes, appreciate how it feels and acknowledge your progress. When I was learning to love strength training, I did not enjoy most of the sessions of strength training. But what I did enjoy was the feeling in my body afterwards. What I did enjoy was the growing sense of strength and the lessening of aches and pains. This kept my skin in the game while I was learning to enjoy strength training. 

Enjoy the process. If every fiber of your being hates what you are doing, evaluate your desires and intentions. It could be simple resistance or, it could be that you are under the spell of someone else's ideas and expectations and *shoulds*. To be honest, it could also be that you have ideas about how things should be -- sometimes, things are hard. That's okay. You are built for hard things. I trust you to know the difference between not wanting to do something hard and a true and deep NO from your soul. Trust yourself to know the difference and really, enjoy the fullness of your humanity as you choose to be more intentional in how you practice. 

I believe in you, and your practice. 

You are not here to elevate someone else's desires or ideas. You make your most powerful contribution to the world when you are committed to honoring your own desires and being the woman you are more fully until the day you die. 

May you practice with vigor being the woman you are and the woman you wish to be. May your practices be potent allies in real and reliable transformation. And, heart wide open, may you embrace the joys and the challenges of intentional practice and all that is has to offer you. 

xo.nona


The Deep Magic of Practice Awaits

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The Art of Dwelling in Worth

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"I don't want to do my workout." 

I woke up this morning and that was my first thought. Clara has been sick. I was sick. It was Clara's birthday. We are traveling next week. I'm in the middle of 2018 Medicine Visions. I'm preparing space for the women who are gathering for The School of Sacred Practice including answering questions, having chats and sharing my thoughts with women on why it matters to them. 

My workout seemed like a royal pain in the ass that I definitely didn't have time for. 

There is a time to honor that momentary feeling.

Like when I'm sick or physically exhausted -- but it wasn't today. When I thought about Clara being home sick and all the things that I want to do today, coupled with how I want to move through my day - I remembered (from experience) that despite my 'feeling' of not wanting to, today is the kind of day that I most need to create the space for my Sacred Practices in order to show up in my life the way I want to: fully connected to myself and feeling deeply cared for and enlivened. 

Sacred Practice is the very ground I build on.

My Sacred Practices: moving my body, feeding myself well, meditation and breathing, intention and planning for wise action, as well as energy work combined with connecting with nature and my guides - these are the banks of my proverbial river. These are the practices that, over the years, I've determined feed me deeply. These practices, whether I want to do them or not, offer me deep pleasure and connection to the full compliment of sacred resources that are mine to work with. 

But most important, these Sacred Practices are an ongoing personal affirmation of my worth in action - affirming that I matter as much as anything else in life. That my energy, my mood, my rest, my pleasure, my nourishment - it matters to me. Tending myself and my sacred resources is at the heart of my practices and practice, over time, creates lasting change and transformation. Living well, working well and being well -- these are functions of Sacred Practice. 

Practicing the art of dwelling in worth.

You might shake your head and say that this is a lot - too much, even. Yes, it is a lot. No, it's not too much. As a sensitive, intuitive woman who is a spouse of a diplomat, mother to a teenager and a woman who runs my own business - I need a lot of tending and care. Full stop, no apology. 

From years of cutting out one thing, or another, or ignoring my Sacred Practices altogether, here is what I know for sure: to ignore my Sacred Practice is a recipe for dysfunctional behavior. It's a recipe for trying to soothe myself with cupcakes or bites of frosting or cookies or shopping. It's a recipe for a disconnection from my truth that's so acute I don't notice until I'm in a resentful fury toward the people I love most. It's a recipe for staying "busy" doing work that isn't taking me where I really want to go. It's a recipe for feeling a sense of lack that makes my soul ache. 

I'm sure I'll be there again, but time spent in that poverty-stricken state is shorter every time. Because: transformation. My Sacred Practices have consistently changed me, over time, into a whole new person. I'm committed. 

So yes, it's a lot. And as much as I am worthy of that kind of care and attention, so are you.

You, too, are worthy.

Anything that you do with consistent devotion is a practice. What makes a practice sacred is the intention and energy we bring to it. So I never quibble with clients about what practices they choose if they resonate deeply for the individual - I'm not an expert on what practices might be ideal for you (though I could offer ideas).

The heart of Sacred Practice is about living in alignment with your deepest knowing and indulging in the true pleasure of being alive with consistent devotion - this provides deep nourishment, true connection, as well as great joy and increased energy. This kind of fullness makes you better at everything you do and helps you clearly define boundaries around traditional sources of "worthiness" (like money). Why? Because when you dwell in worth, you have less tolerance for being underpaid, less impulse to overwork, and a greater capacity to discern what your true material needs and desires are (which usually means more money in the bank).

Commit to a Practice of Dwelling in Worth.

A commitment to your unique constellation of Sacred Practice offers a pathway to being the woman you are, and the woman you are becoming by choice. I invite you to choose one Sacred Practice to do with devotion and intention, to show up for yourself and your practice each day and let it transform you. It will, I promise. 

There is nothing all that special about committing to Sacred Practice. You can do it simply by making a choice, each and every day. And, I know that creating time and shifting into a state of dwelling in worthiness can be a challenge with screaming self-criticism, not to mention others sly judgements. However, over time, your commitment amplifies your sense of worthiness and in turn, that sense of worthiness amplifies your commitment to the practices that support dwelling in worth.  

The School of Sacred Practice is enrolling now. If you loved this article, you will love The School -- our second intensive is a sweet dive into the very art of dwelling in worth. I would be delighted to support you and to create sacred space for the changes you seek to make in 2018. Join us. 

xo.nona