As moms we don’t spend a lot of deep thinking time on what authentic living means for us.
But, in my work with women around the world I can call you that our ultimate wish — even while we raise beautiful children into adults — is figuring out who we are right now and who we want to be.
Authentic living actually drives us all day long whether or not we know it. It’s there when we create our Pinterest boards. It’s there when we read blogs. It’s there when we choose a new haircut. It’s there when we decorate our kitchens.
My own version of this has been rising to the surface for more than a decade — since becoming a mother — but my conversation with Jen Cooper last year on The Abundant Mama Show really pushed me into a place of asking .. who am I? Who am I when I’m not mom, wife or family wellness coach?
And it’s been fun to lead a community of women on that same quest …
It’s true that at the root of ALL of these decisions we make each day of how we want to live there is ONE nemesis that holds us back and keeps us in place … the root of all joy stealers … and that is the shoulds.
The shoulds of how we should act, should eat, should talk, should be.
Shoulds keep us very tightly wound and small.
And then there’s the shouldn’ts. We shouldn’t have too much fun. We shouldn’t sit around and rest. We shouldn’t tell someone no and hurt their feelings. We shouldn’t dream too big or live too loudly.
If you could be totally free of expectations for how you want to show up in your life what would you change?
This was a thought that came up at my recent Abundant Mama alumni weekend retreat where we had such a blissful time connecting, laughing and being totally ourselves.
During our alumni retreat, each woman questioned the shoulds that they are living for others vs. the ones they need to start doing for themselves in order to live more authentically and in alignment with who they really are at their core.
They found immense joy in this idea of being who they truly want to be rather than continuing to keep repeating the shoulds patterns they grew up with and hold on to very tightly.
During the retreat, they released themselves. They spoke their truths. They told their stories. They shared their hearts. They laughed. They cried. They danced. They rested. They connected with themselves and to each other.
It was the retreat from the shoulds that they needed.
But as the women returned home to their lives of taking care of everyone else and doing their work and meeting their deadlines, a couple of them felt a touch of shame.
Wise as they are, they called them vulnerability hangovers.
During their weekend with women who hold no judgements and who love and support them, they had let a small — or big — part of themselves be seen and heard in a way they hadn’t experienced in a long time, maybe ever.
It was blissful.
And it was scary.
So while they carried a memorable story of release and freedom home with them, they also carried a bit of shame as well … shame of what others would think of them now that they showed some of their true colors as woman and mothers.
I’m not surprised.
Moms love to hide. I learned this more than 20 years ago when I worked with teen mothers.
Moms hide behind their kids’ needs, their kids bodies, their cleaning, their work, their making meals. They hide. They play small. Despite wanting desperately to be seen and understood, many moms really lean toward the background and the sidelines of life.
Showing up and being bold and living out loud is HARD for many moms but it’s that kind of BOLD living that we rally behind and celebrate in The Abundant Mama Project — especially in my alumni membership community, The Peace Circle.
Shame doesn’t belong in a woman who wants to sing her song and dance her dance.
But when it does happen — and that’s part of the process of being ourselves — we can embrace it and celebrate it and move through it.
And to the women I spent four days and three nights with living out loud with … I say this:
Your beautiful wild selves cracked open and a new YOU appeared to bloom and blossom before our eyes.
Own that story. Own that dance. Own those tears.
And treasure that moment forever where you were able to be seen and heard and understood for who you are. That is what being an Abundant Mama is all about.
And I offer these authentic living quotes below to remind them — and all of us — that living our truth is the most powerful move we can take each day.
10 Powerful Quotes to Inspire Authentic Living
“Nothing important, or meaningful, or beautiful, or interesting, or great ever came out of imitations. The thing that is really hard and really amazing is to give up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.”― Anna Quindlen
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ― C.G. Jung
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” ― May Sarton
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” ― Brené Brown
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
“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.” ― Brené Brown
“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.” ― Brené Brown
“What if the question is not why I am so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer