Bad Blogger (Made for More)

Hi, I’m Andrea, also known as MyPhareLady. I’m going to make a bold and shocking statement: I might just be the world’s worst blogger, by social media industry standards, anyway.

The following is a list of eight solid reasons to support this claim:

  1. Historically speaking, I haven’t done the best job of posting regularly and consistently.
  2. I don’t have a large following.
  3. Sometimes when I put my stuff out into the world via a blog post, I have absolutely no idea if anyone ever reads, or moreover can relate to what I’ve written.
  4. I don’t receive many comments on my posts.
  5. My blog isn’t driven by a specific product or service. (I’m not trying to sell anything to anyone.)
  6. I don’t put much energy into curating beautifully staged photos with perfect lighting to complement my posts.
  7. I make absolutely no money running my blog. I don’t have companies approaching me about sponsorships and endorsement deals, nor do I accept paid advertising on my site (not that anyone has ever asked me about any of these things…lol).
  8. I don’t really advertise or promote my blog, apart from sharing with family, friends, and on my personal social media feeds.

There. I said it. These are my blogging “failures.” The many reasons I suck at blogging. But I can also say that none of these things had anything to do with me wanting to start a blog in the first place.

So, the next (and most obvious) question is, if you’re not doing it to make money, why bother having a blog, right?

Well, the reason I started this blog was simple: because it originated with a tiny whisper from my heart. And although this small voice from within was barely audible, I was incapable of ignoring it. Well, I suppose I did try for a while, but it was persistent and just kept getting louder and louder, so I eventually caved to its demands.

I couldn’t make much sense of it at the time, but I knew I must honour the deep longing to share my writing with an audience, even through my uncertainty and fear. There was a reason for listening to the whispers of my heart that I couldn’t comprehend then, nor am I even sure I understand now—to not only take that leap of faith into the world of creative self-expression, but also to make myself vulnerable to a vast Interweb of strangers at the same time.

courage

Switching gears—and please bear with me as I promise to bring these thoughts full circle by the end of this post—I recently discovered an author, momprepreneur, and all-around magical unicorn of a woman by the name of Ms. Rachel Hollis. Seriously, this woman was not even on my radar two months ago, but a friend invited me to go see the final screening of her documentary, Made for More, in our city in August. I jumped at the chance (because, who doesn’t want a night out with a girlfriend?), and I was pleasantly surprised to learn how authentic, raw, and vulnerable she is, not to mention her determination to inspire and uplift other women is unstoppable. Needless to say I found the documentary (and Rachel) to be refreshing and inspirational in every possible way.

I’ve since started following all of her social media, devoured her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and, in an effort to end 2018 with strength, intention, clarity, and grace, have been participating in her #last90days challenge. In the relatively short time I’ve known of Rachel Hollis, I’ve received so much inspiration from her work and the simple truths she has made it her mission to share. Among these are the importance of: being completely and unapologetically yourself; maintaining a growth mindset; going all in, as in being 100% invested in your goals (still working on this one); paying no mind to other people’s opinions; and, last but certainly not least, that all women deserve to belong and be supported by community.

Discovering Rachel Hollis has reminded me about what’s really important to me, what’s important in life, and also why I started this blog in the first place. For me, it was never about making money and having a billion subscribers. Rather, it was always supposed to be an online space dedicated to authenticity, growth, community, and connection.

Thanks in large part to Rachel’s wisdom and teachings, I’m able to see it all so much more clearly now: my passion, and ultimately my goal for this blog, is to bring women together in the spirit of community to create dialogue around topics that matter. This is a vehicle for sharing my thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and using them as a catalyst or starting point for conversations with other women. It’s a way for me to use my voice for good, to help others on a parallel or intersecting path—to build a sisterhood of like-minded souls who, just like me, are seeking a community in which love, support, and kindness reign supreme.

Even though I know all too well the metrics that define a successful blogger, and even though I admittedly fall way short of these metrics on all accounts, I cannot shake the feeling that I must continue to forge ahead. I must keep writing. I must keep sharing the pieces of myself and my life experiences I feel called to share. I must do so, not because I’m seeking fame or notoriety, but because this blog is here for a reason, and dare I say I think it’s supposed to serve a far greater purpose than anything that can be defined solely by monetization or subscriber statistics.

dontquityourdreams

And perhaps most important of all, this blog has taught me, time and time again, that when my heart speaks, what it’s telling me is not up for negotiation. I MUST listen. And if listening to my heart and following my dreams in spite of the evidence that’s stacked against me means I’m the worst blogger out there, I suppose I’m alright with that.

And I’m pretty sure that it’s all because I’m learning (and maybe even starting to believe) that I am made for more.

With all my love,
MyPhareLady
xo

WAIT! Don’t go yet…just one more really IMPORTANT thing:
I want to know what big dreams and goals are you working on, and more importantly, what are you doing to get through the challenges and push past the setbacks you encounter along the way? Are you working toward something that feels so completely out of reach, or even impossible, that you often think about giving up, but choose to keep going anyway?
I’d really love to hear from you. Let’s get this conversation started…drop me a line in the comments below!

Brisk Walk

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, I bundled myself up in warm layers and ventured outside, no specific destination in mind. Just the intention to get outside and go for a walk.

It’s been quite cold in my neck of the woods this past week, which actually made it feel more like a month (some might even argue this past frozen week has felt like a year in and of itself). But the mercury had climbed enough yesterday afternoon to make it humanly possible to go outside, with plenty of extra clothing to pad my flesh against the harsh sting of the cold, of course.

I had been longing to be outside, to breathe the fresh, crisp air into my lungs. And so I walked, putting one foot in front of the other, focusing on my breath, and feeling the steady beat of my heart inside my chest. I walked. At some point, each of my footsteps  naturally and effortlessly synchronized with an inhale or an exhale. I walked in perfect rhythm and harmony with myself, each step a sacred partnership of movement and breath.

Not tiptoeing and not sauntering. Neither crawling nor running.
I walked, briskly and with intention, guided by inspiration and my intuition.

Call it symbolism or metaphor if you like, but I prefer to think of it as my new reality.

Intention – The deliberate approach I am consciously choosing for myself, to be all in for my own life. I like to think of intention as the opposite end of the spectrum from chance and coincidence. Sure, there’s always room for a little spontaneity, but I plan to begin each day with a strong intention to guide me. 

intent

Intuition – Trusting the quiet whispers from my heart and my soul, even when they don’t make sense. I am learning how it really is that simple. Intuition is like a muscle: the more you listen, the more you hear. I am listening.

Inspiration – Allowing the world’s beauty, emotion, and passion to fill my heart so full that I have no choice but to create something just as beautiful myself, as a way to express my gratitude and appreciation for all that is. To live an inspiring and inspiration-filled life, and maybe even to inspire others along the way.

visionboard

Taking in the first few deep breaths of crisp winter air as I walked made my nose run and cheeks rosy, but it also brought warmth and brightness to my soul. And perhaps the most beautiful thing of all is that I really don’t know where any of this is going, or where I’m going. But what’s more important is how, through willingness and an open heart, I’m learning to practice the art of surrender and to trust my journey.

I am grateful for the New Year that is now upon us; for the perspective and the clean slate it affords. Even if all of this is just a silly notion generated by my overactive imagination, it feels real. I am realizing there is an untapped energy source that has been resting dormant inside me. A swirl of ideas are fueling a renewed sense of curiosity, and a zest for experiencing the fullness of life is starting to take shape.

My path is not clear, and I really have no idea where I’m going. I suppose it’s possible, and even quite likely, that I could take a wrong turn. In fact, I could get very lost. I could get it all wrong and make terrible mistakes along the way. I could continue to be paralyzed—stuck in place—frozen by all-consuming fear. Or, I could walk on in spite of the obvious challenges and risks.

I choose to walk forward, one bold step at a time, along with my three faithful companions: intuition, inspiration, and intention.

There’s no way of knowing for sure what this year has in store, but I’m excited to take the walk.

 

What are you excited for in 2018? I’d love to connect with you! Drop me a line and let’s chat about what dreams and schemes you’re cooking up for the future.

 

A Dreamer Takes Flight

I’ve settled into my spot in 7A. My carry-on bag has been stowed securely under the seat in front of me. I spend the first 60 minutes of the flight from Toronto, Ontario to Oranjestad, Aruba reading 54 pages of Stephen King’s On Writing. Knowing little else of his life other than his notoriety as an author of numerous thriller genre books, I’m quite tickled by King’s keen wit and wry sense of humour. I may have actually chuckled out loud…twice…reading how he caught a terrible case of poison ivy after making the choice to go number two in a forested area and wiping with glossy green leaves.

I’ve put the book away and had water, coffee, and some (plain) plane cookies. Following my in-flight guided meditation, a Ludovico Einaudi piano melody flows through the thin white chord that extends out of the bottom of my phone and then separate into two branches; each one delivering a steady stream of full, rich, sound into the tiny buds in my ears. A soft, plaid flannel wrap is draped across my legs to keep away the airplane draft.

7A is a window seat, directly above the left jet. Looking out the window at 39,000 feet, the trivial details that previously preoccupied my thoughts around the items I forgot to pack (the tally currently stands at hairbrush, razor, and sunscreen) have completely faded away, replaced with seemingly endless blankets off cotton-baton like clouds. The sky clears a little, and my view becomes a haze of solid grey with only a string of clouds formed into a long straight line just beneath the jet. Then all of a sudden the entire sky changes to a sheet of brilliant cyan with not a single cloud in sight. I am mesmerized by the sky’s beauty, in all its changing forms.

I am defying the laws of gravity, floating through the atmosphere. The great expanse of the wide-open sky is my home, at least for the next few hours. I am flying.

This bird’s-eye view of the world has created a shift inside me. My spirit is lifted as high as the elevation at which we’re flying, and my heart is filled with the hope that all things—both great and small—are possible. Left alone with my thoughts, climbing to the top of the universe, I’ve found comfort in a soft blanket of clouds and my own dreams.

I’ve recently set a big dream in motion, speaking aloud the deepest desire of my heart. And I wonder if this is why the sky is unfolding so magically for me today, showing me both the vastness of possibility and the impermanence of everything. The meaning is far greater than I’m currently able to express. Today, the sky represents a new beginning; the start of something so incredible I don’t yet fully understand. Whatever it is, it’s something so remarkable and beautiful and potentially life-changing that I’m not yet able to articulate it in words.

In this moment, I’m no longer thinking about what is or isn’t in my suitcase.

Everything is perfectly simple and simply perfect.

I have my head in the clouds and I’m flying on the wings of my dream.

Dream State

The first thoughts that dance across my consciousness
before I emerge from my cocoon of slumber are granular.
A mysterious whisper from a sacred place taunts me
to recognize unfamiliar words,
to put them in a string and decode their meaning.
Divine messages begin to take shape inside my mind.
I strain to arrange the pieces in a way I can understand.
The voice of omniscience is muffled.
I don’t speak the language.
I am not picking up the right frequency.
The images are blurry, out of focus, overexposed.
An unseen ticking clock is a metronome of urgency.
The tension is palpable,
as I wait for fragments of meaning to peek through the fog.
One flicker of clarity is my only clue
about how much information is still missing from the riddle.
Time is running out.
An energy—a deep desire to understand—lures me to linger,
searching with eyelids pressed a while longer.
Someone, from somewhere, is trying to tell me something important.
Only the more I focus on trying to understand,
the less any part of it makes sense.
A collision occurs in the space between dreams and reality,
and a deafeningly loud, yet inaudible noise rings through the cosmos.
Twisted heaps of metal and shards of broken glass form a boundary,
marking the distinction between two separate worlds.
My eyes are wide open and,
in the same instant,
the message that was being born in my consciousness
fades to visual static and dissolves into nothing.
I lie very still in the early morning darkness,
hoping for the chance at another glimpse,
but questions are all that remain.
Most of all, I wonder if anything will return the next time I close my eyes.

Trust is the Word

Despite any appearance to the contrary, I’ve always been a fake-it-till-you-make-it chick. And when I stop to think about why this is so, all signs point to an obvious lack of trust in myself.

Through my personal journey of contemplation and self-reflection over the past several years, I have realized there are some major chinks in my armour, not the least of which is an inability to trust myself. Further, this has made me painfully aware of another vulnerability: I cannot fully realize my potential on this planet until I have completely embraced the radical concept of self-trust.

Trust is inextricably intertwined with some other equally nebulous ideas. When I think of trust, I also think of BELIEF, CONFIDENCE, INTEGRITY, LOYALTY, FAITH, COURAGE, and BRAVERY.

TRUSTme

I honestly believe my reasons for lacking trust in myself boil down to 1.) fear and 2.) having an overly active loud mouth of an inner critic. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario when I consider which of these came first, as they apparently fuel and feed off of each other.

But coming back to the concept of trust, turning this word back on myself has been an interesting exercise. I mean, it’s one thing when you realize that you’ve lost trust for someone whom you consider to be important in your life, but when that person is yourself, whoa!

I would argue that trust matters most in relationships of an intimate nature. And what is more intimate than the relationship one has with oneself? By this logic, trust is a biggie. It’s huge. The absence of it a major clue that, “Houston, we have a problem!”

It’s hard to like someone you don’t trust, and it’s hard to like yourself if you don’t trust yourself.
Leo Babruta

But I’m here to tell you, straight up, there is a void inside my soul where the trust button is supposed to be. It’s like a vacuum in which there is no air for my flame to burn. Heck, there’s not even a spark to light the flame. For some reason, the visual of a motherboard with an empty slot where the processor is supposed to be comes to mind. There’s a label with an arrow showing exactly where the trust processor belongs, but it’s just not there.

This visual demonstrates how integral I have come to believe self-trust is to pursuing and achieving anything worthwhile in this world, because, even though I’m no technology expert, I’d imagine a motherboard without a processor is virtually useless. Haha, virtually, get it? Similarly, without that trust ‘processor’ functioning in me, it feels humanly impossible to follow through on my purpose with the serious work of this life.

Trust is a funny thing. You can’t see it, touch it, taste it, or smell it. It’s either there or it isn’t. You know when it is there and when it isn’t.

And that is precisely my reason for choosing TRUST as the one word to guide me in 2016. It is the one thing I know am currently lacking and that has the potential to change the course and trajectory of my life.

Trust is something akin to a special brand of blind faith. It is the unwavering belief that, in the face of adversity and against all odds, life is going to work out exactly how it’s supposed to. It’s that unshakable place of being firmly rooted in the knowing that life is always working in your favour.

For me, trusting myself implicitly would mean defeating self-doubt and being so thoroughly self-assured that my every move is guided by a very cool (yet non arrogant) sense of confidence. The reliable presence of trust in my life would translate to avoiding the urge to compare myself to others and bypassing the impulse to second guess my instincts. Perhaps most importantly for me, embodying trust would be like knowing with everything in me that, no matter what the universe throws my way, ‘I’ve got this.’

When baking a cake, you make sure to include all of the ingredients in the recipe. When you’re building a life you love, you’ve got to start by trusting yourself.

If I sit down to write not having a concrete idea in mind before hand, I need to trust the ideas will come to me, and through me. And it all starts by having that trust in myself in the first place, to get my rear end into that chair and just start typing.

Trust is the fertile ground in which I have planted my seeds of intention for 2016. With its constant loving attention, I am better equipped to nurture my seeds and encourage their growth. With trust as the foundation of everything I do, I believe there’s nothing I cannot accomplish. And with some good, old-fashioned hard work, my efforts will finally take shape and flower into reality.

2016: I trust it’s my time to shine!

Trust words

How do you measure a year in a life?

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago on a day much like today, I took a huge leap of faith by leaving my job in favour of devoting more time to my family, as well as to explore my passion for writing. There was something so magical and almost intoxicating to me about what I imagined I would be able to accomplish, and the one-year mark was the first and most important major checkpoint on the journey of this new life.

With one year having come and gone, I’ve struggled to use my time effectively and to create a solid routine for myself. I’ve been tripped up, time and time again, in my attempts to balance the obligations of running a household and raising two young children against the pursuit of my own goals and dreams.

And somewhere between the crushing expectations I place on myself and (learning) to relax my tendency to control every microsecond of my life, I became frozen in place. Frustrated and overwhelmed, I threw my hands up in the air and did nothing. And so I find myself one year down the road with virtually nothing to show for the lapse in time.

On second thought, perhaps it’s not entirely accurate to say I haven’t accomplished anything… I’ve read books and completed courses. I’ve done a great deal of self-reflection and personal work. And I feel, from the deepest parts of my being, that I’m inching ever closer to being reacquainted with my most authentic self.

When I set aside the disappointment I feel about the lack of writing I’ve done, what I can do is measure the past year in the valuable lessons I’ve learned. And so I’d like to share the top 10 big ones that I’ve had both the pain and pleasure of experiencing:

  1. I create my own suffering. It’s human nature, really. But once I really began to understand how my thoughts create my reality, I also realized that I can choose to see things differently, and there is tremendous freedom in that. This is a practice that isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth the effort.
  2. Everything is temporary. Impermanence is the way of the universe. This means I can change my mind, and I can change my self. And so I am. Change is the precursor of growth, so I am growing.
  3. Related to point number 2 above, it’s best not to become attached to anything, even the stories about my past. No, especially the stories about my past.
  4. Fear can be debilitating, if I allow it to have that power over me. That’s why when something really matters, I need to summon every ounce of courage I have and do (whatever that thing is) anyway. When given the choice between comfort and growth (and I always have a choice), I choose growth.
  5. It’s simply not possible for material stuff and things to fill the emptiness inside. Even if it does provide some satisfaction initially, the effects wear off quickly and leave an even greater emptiness in their wake. For this very reason, I find myself growing less concerned about the acquisition of stuff and more focused on experiencing life. At the same time, I have learned how letting go of stuff and things creates space for new possibilities. This realization is extremely liberating.
  6. Living a numb existence and being on autopilot day in and day out is really no way to live. Emotions are energy in motion, and must be acknowledged and felt so they can be processed and released. If not, this energy gets trapped in the body and will inevitably cause problems, such as spontaneously erupting like a volcano at an inappropriate time later on, or causing illness and even disease. What’s the moral if the story here? Feel my feelings. Feel my feelings! FEEL MY FEELINGS!
  7. Having a healthy dose of self-worth, nurtured by regular portions of self-love, is the absolute best way to nurture my personal power and live an authentic life. I am learning to love myself because doing so is essential to my happiness and success.
  8. I am far more important and powerful than I have given myself credit for. We all are. We’re all here for a reason; we have all been given this life to accomplish a particular purpose that is unique to each of us. And we are all connected—our thoughts, behaviours, and actions send ripples out into the world that have an effect on others.
  9. From a growing awareness around my own resistance, I’m learning how important it is to get to its source, such as understanding why a particular person or situation pushes my buttons. There’s two big reasons why this is so: 1) Resistance is fueled by ignorance and fears, therefore harboring resistance to change and simply to what is makes life more difficult overall, and 2) When you recognize resistance as a tool for growth, you can embrace and learn from the lessons that you are presented with, instead of being stuck on repeat. This one is definitely a work in progress and one that requires me to be fully awake to the present moment.
  10. I cannot underestimate the absolute value of faith, particularly in the face of adversity and in the absence of the fruits of productivity. And this is where I am reminded of the divine timing of my life. I trust that I am exactly where I’m meant to be, learning what I need to know, and that everything I’m doing now is necessary for me to move forward in the future.
  11. Ok, I know I said there were 10 lessons, but here’s a bonus just for you: Love will light the way (if you let it)!

faith_fearEven though I bought in to the idea of what I should have been able to accomplish over the past year, and subsequently admonished myself for falling short on my goals, I also know that undoing years of conditioning and patterns simply doesn’t happen over night. I am erasing the old, worn out recordings of my limiting beliefs and replacing them with a new inspirational soundtrack for my life. I can hear the music playing faintly in the distance, so know I am on the right track to creating a life I love.

Do any of these lessons resonate for you? Which ones in particular can you relate to and why? I’d also love to hear how you measure a year in your life.

I leave you with the lyrics to a beautifully fitting song, Seasons of Love from RENT
By Daniel Noonan
SONGWRITERS
Jonathan D. Larson

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments, oh dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love (love)
Seasons of love (love)

One small step for mypharelady = one giant leap for my self-worth

If there’s one thing I know it’s that I can be a stubborn, slow learner. If there’s another thing I know it’s that slow and steady still gets you to the finish line.

After finishing my second half marathon I was adamant that I’d never complete a full marathon. In my mind, doing anything for a distance of 42 km and what would likely take me over five hours is the definition of insanity. No, thank you. Not for this girl. It’s really quite funny how, in certain moments like these, we feel we have all the answers. Everything is absolutely black and white. Yet, with a little time, some learning, and a lot of perspective, we can—and quite often do—change our minds.

Despite having completed a number of races, which by most people’s standards would qualify me as a runner, I’ve always struggled with the moniker. Similarly, despite making a living for close to 15 years by writing, not to mention running this blog and having a dream of writing and publishing a book of my own, calling myself a writer has always felt a little uncomfortable.

I can imagine anyone reading this right now is probably scratching their head and wondering what the hell long distance running and writing have to do with each other. The answer, at least in my case, is quite a lot. Both can take a toll on us: taxing our bodies, zapping our energy, and depleting us mentally. Both require tremendous focus, dedication, and most of all courage. Both require that the participant never give up hope of reaching their final destination—whether it be crossing the finish line or sharing their work with the world by publishing a book.

And I guess that’s precisely why I finally went ahead and purchased the domain name {mypharelady.com}. You see, when I originally created this blog about 2.5 years ago, I just couldn’t justify the expense for a personal blog that was little more than a hobby. Fast forward a few short years and I now see how that decision was less about the cost and more about subconsciously keeping myself small.

It has taken moldways_newdoorse some time to see the fault in my earlier perspective, and also that I still have a ways to go in the self-love and self-worth department. But I also realize staying where I am, in the nice warm fluffy walls of my comfort zone, won’t change anything either.

Is there any way to guarantee the small investment I’ve made in registering this domain will yield any kind of financial return? No. Is giving myself a gentle kick in the ass to get out of my comfort zone and taking a giant leap of faith just what I need? Hell ya and ‘nuff said.

While I must admit that running a full marathon still isn’t anywhere on my radar (I don’t feel the need to prove to myself that I can do it), I am determined to write and publish a book. Therefore, I intend to continue trudging forward, slowly and steadily down the long and winding road, until I reach the finish line.

I’d like to know…

Have you ever felt confined by your comfort zone and, if so, what did you do to shake things up?

And

In the face of self-doubt and other setbacks, how do you keep yourself focused on achieving your dreams and goals?