When Only Your Weird Will Do: How Keeping It Real Has Been My Secret to Success and Happiness

Y’know, in my late twenties I was sure I was on my way to being a success. I was teaching full time and I had my own successful hypnosis business. I was serious, no nonsense, go go go! On top of of that, I really dressed the part: super corporate chic, lots of black and brown (you know the type). BO-RING!

Fast forward to me discovering my gifts as a writer and life coach and realizing that my mindset (and my wardrobe) were so out of sync with who I really am. It was all just a part I thought I had to play to be successful.

But when I figured out that I am still the same funky and free girl I was waaaaaay back in high school, I truly found success. Weird, eh?

Turns out I wasn’t just innocently attempting to grow up, be mature and responsible; I was crushing my true soul – the one that so effortlessly and generously showed up when I was younger.

This is when I also realized that I wasn’t alone. I started to ask the people around me if they felt like this, or if I was the only weirdo. They actually all had some pretty unreassuring things to add, like:
You have to grow up some time
You can’t make money being in a garage band
It’s not like we can all be artists 
You have to be responsible and have a real job that pays the bills

UGH! Depressing!!

What makes us think that what we would love to do or BE isn’t WORTH doing?

I for one couldn’t live one more minute without reconnecting with my true self. I threw out those stuffy clothes, got rid of the boring hair cut, and threw myself at the questions I had about what and why people were okay living with a ‘just because’ and ‘good enough’ attitude. I was ready to be me and find out how I could help others shake of their imposter costumes too.

And now, the work that I’ve done since has always lit me up and never let me feel like I have to be anyone besides just me.

And don’t get me wrong – I still have more layers to peel off and BS to sift through but I have committed myself to doing that – that is actually what feels the BEST! 

 

 

Lately, I think I’ve sifted out yet another several layers of BS that was blanketing the real me, and it feels amazing. I’ve been saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’ like a pro, and I’m so much choosier when it comes to my choices – not picky, just … choosier – listening more closely to what I really want and not what I think I should say or do.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes behind my sunglasses to hear that I actually don’t want to get a drink just cuz it’s Friday, after I said I’d go. Sometimes I catch myself saying, “It’s fine if there’s no vegetarian option, I’ll have a salad,” and then I regret it.

And slowly, I know, those responses will build up another blanket fort so heavy that it will crush that true soul once again until I can’t breathe and I have to start all over again, listening more carefully to the voice.

It’s not easy. Actually, it’s really f***ing annoying that it’s such a quiet voice. It’s so hard to hard to hear under the pressure of the moment, or the buzz of and whirl of the Internet, the ALL CAPS on social media, your screaming child, your angry partner, your angry self, traffic, juicers, weird yoga music, etc. But it is under there.

Close your eyes if you have to (I do).

What would it feel like to say no (politely) more often and do what you want? Freedom?

What would it feel like if we all did this more, all the time? Would honesty and trust become words we could depend on?

I’d love to hear what happens for you this week by taking on this habit of listening carefully first before you say yes or no.

Leave a comment here or with the Facebook community to share your experience with other thirtysomeones (and me).

And check out what’s new at my site ashewoodward.com, where you can also find my contact info and how to get in touch for personal, one-to-one coaching calls.

 

Are You in a Thankless Position?

When we’re growing up, we’re surrounded by praise from teachers, parents and even strangers who compliment our adorable cuteness.

And each time we hear we’ve done something right, we know we’re on the right track – our teacher says, “Keep up the good work,” and we know this means that if we keep on this way, we’ll pass.

Our parents may comment on our good use of manners and we learn how to treat people.

Our grandparents pinch our cheeks and we learn how to keep smiling.

But what about when we finally get out into the ‘real world’ and there’s no one to praise us or give us that direction?

What do we do when there’s no one to say that the decision we made was right or that the choices we’re making are smart, or that the work we’re doing will help us land that promotion?

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you have a good boss or supervisor who notices your hard work and is directing you towards success in your field. Same thing goes if you have a mentor or coach.

But if you’re like the rest of the population, you’re in a thankless job and you’re working to keep hope alive by finding little wins each day to brag about to your partner or dog when you come home.

If you’re in this category, you are the silent hero – going above and beyond your job, your home responsibilities and duties and no one really knows about all your hard work except you. While there is some honour in this, it’s not the best way to care for yourself or get ahead. Too much time spent feeling like you’re ‘guessing’ at the right thing to do often leads to stress, breakdowns and sad/funny meme creation.

But if you’re in a place where you feel like you’re alone and you really haven’t got a f&*king clue, let me tell ya – YOU’RE NOT ALONE. Not in an X-files creepy way, but in the way that even if it doesn’t seem like it, everyone is kinda winging it here.

The fact that these memes are posted and reposted is proof that we’re all feeling it. We all feel like we need more direction and praise. Unfortunately, this is the adult’s cross to bear.

But here’s the gist and what I truly believe: You need to trust and have faith in your 30+ years of life experience. Trust your intuition as being stronger than just a ‘guess’ because it has gotten you this far. And as you trust yourself more and more, your instincts will grow stronger like worked muscles and decisions become easier and the future seems brighter.

I think Henry Ford said it well when he said, “Quality is doing it right, even when no one is watching.”henry-ford-quotes-4

When we feel like we’re not being thanked or praised, it’s easy to want to give up. But integrity and a quality life is knowing that you are always doing your best, no matter what others notice.

And lastly, let me just say:

If you’re working to get to your dream in some pretty unglamourous ways – side hustles and side-side hustles

If you’re working to take care of you and your kids and you’re exhausted every night

If you’re working your butt off but still have no extra money at the end of the month

If you’re working at a business with no clients yet

If you’re doing everything you can with no results but keep going anyway cuz all you have is faith

If you’re writing a blog that no one leaves comments on…

I SEE YOU!

And I hope you feel it, because I mean it.

You may not KNOW what you’re doing, but still, you’re doing it! And that’s all you can always do.

Just keep going and know that the universe is watching. Your positive effort energy is never wasted because it always goes out into the world and turns into something else, probably for someone else’s benefit.

Have faith that even if things seem tough right now and it may seem like no one is rooting for you, please know that it isn’t true. Your small deeds matter to everyone because the fact that you keep doing it adds more magical grit and inspiration into the world.

I see you, thirtysomeone. I see you:)

If you’d like to learn more about integrity and the power of praise or tell me more about what you do as a silent hero, get in touch for a chat! support@ashewoodward.com.

And don’t wait to grab your FREE copy of

The Thirtysomething’s Guide to Successful Goal-making HERE

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Will You Ever Feel Like a Grownup?

Even though I know I’m 34 and, therefore, quite deep into my adult years, I somehow don’t often feel like I’m a grownup.

I think when I was younger I thought that being an adult would come with a sort of positivity and all-knowingness – not the kind your mother-in-law has, but the kind that comes from looking really cool in business attire and having your own briefcase.

I thought I would always know the answer and I’d be the kind of person who has complete self-confidence in every decision I made.

I had no idea how wrong I’d be…

I do have moments where I have the feeling of independence once in a while, but these moments are fleeting, making it more like an emotion than a general sense.

And just to remind me of how ungrownup I am, I got the hiccups yesterday and just couldn’t shake them. I held my breath, drank water upside down and even tried to scare myself by watching the first episode of Stranger Things.

Thankfully, they disappeared when I went to the bank later and I cleared up a mistake on my account. During that time I actually felt like a grownup; no hiccups, and completely cool. I think I fooled them.

But it made me realize that this feeling of being a grownup may not even really exist at all. Maybe it’s just something we imagine will feel different but never really does. Maybe all it is is an emotion that shows up only once and a while, out of the blue, kind of like the hiccups.

I started to think more about what it means to get the grownups…

I tend to get the grownups more when I’m at the bank, taking care of my future.

I feel the grownups when I’m driving somewhere I’ve never been and I figure it out.

I definitely feel them when I act like a bonehead and knock someone’s drink over and my first instinct isn’t to be embarrassed but to laugh at myself, apologize and replace it (which happened today).

I wonder if these moments will eventually get closer together and eventually meld into a fully-formed sense of adultness.

But talking with some of my elder relatives in the last while has pretty much assured me that it really never kicks in like you expect it to. They say it’s actually more like the hiccups and how they show up to remind you to take it slow and breathe.

In the same way, those adulting moments give us a quick glimpse of our adult life, and for a few moments we can feel like we’ve made it. These moments give you a chance in a quick glimpse to see how your life has progressed and is a little more sorted out than it used to be.

The trick, I think, is to take the moment in, but also be careful to not try too hard to hold on to it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you have to make the feeling last.

It’ll be back some time soon.

In the meantime, we still have some growing up to do and we’re meant to really enjoy that part of the journey – the part that feels fun and unbound by time. The part where I still feel like a little girl when I give my dad a hug or when I play on the grass with my dogs.

When do you get the grownups and when and how do you let them go?

I’d love to hear in the comments or on Facebook.

And if you or someone you know is looking for more ways to feel the grownups, to really take charge of your adult life, get in touch! Find out more about working with me in one of my coaching programs at ashewoodward.com. Or get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com.

Our OLD Chums and How to Love Them

The list of reasons why it’s great to be in our thirties is pretty long, and I’m sure you know  I could ramble for hours about this being the most excellent decade of my life so far.

And, since you asked, some of my personal favourites are: knowing ourselves more fully, having experience in many many areas, wisdom, more confidence and, for some, a bigger who gives a F— attitude.

But where there’s light, there’s dark so like all things in life there is a dark side to thirtysomeone life. Some culprits include the seemingly never-ending stack of bills, likely identity crises, pressure to get married and have kids, and an ever-slowing metabolism, and the urge to be in our jammies by 8pm on Saturday nights, only to name a few of the great ones.

But today I want to stay positive and add one to the list that I’ve actually never thought of before and it occurred to me this weekend when I had a friend visit.

We met in our first year of university. We both lived on the all girl’s floor and it was a pretty tight community. However, she’s been the only oneI’ve really stayed in touch with.

Now, she lives a few hours and lots of traffic away, but we’ve managed a visit almost every year and we went to each others’ weddings. Not bad.

And then when I got thinking really about how impressive that is, I realized that I’ve known this chick since I was 19, and I can actually say that I have been friends with someone for 15 years!

And I was like, Holy crap that sounds like a long time!

But how amazing is that?

In high school we bond with our friends and feel like we’ll be friends forever. And maybe we will or maybe we won’t, but at the time it sure feels like we are true blue soul mates and yet we’ve only known each other for maybe a couple of years.

In our thirties, it’s possible to have had those trusted amigos in our lives for much, much longer, making those friendships even stronger and more meaningful.

I’m so grateful to have known many of my friends for many years – even if it does make me sounds incredibly old (especially when we can reminisce about mix tapes, Saturday morning cartoons, not having a cell phone until we were 20).

It’s also quite a humbling feeling to know that I’m sharing this journey with great people I’ve met along the way, and it’s amazing to be able to watch our lives ebb, flow, or even change completely.

It’s double crazy to even try to imagine the girls that met all those years ago are now these women –  still friends, but really different from who we used to be, in so many ways. In point of fact, we used to party at the campus bar ’til close, drinking the boys under the table.

This past weekend we had a healthy dinner of salmon and salad from my garden, drank some wine and hit the hay at 10:30pm, like wild women.

So, it all sounds great, but there’s always that risk of of falling out of touch over time. So how do we ensure our friendships stay friendships so we can retain all the bragging rights of being friends for decades?

The simplest way I can put it is this: make it a priority. If a friend is truly a friend and you value that person’s friendship even the slightest, you make sure you go to the birthday party that might be inconvenient. You make sure you meet for coffee when you haven’t spoken in six months. You go to the baby shower you resent going to, knowing that your friend will never buy your dog a toy or a cute outfit.

Secondly, as a priority, make sure you are THERE – phone off (potentially), kids at the babysitter, and all your attention is on the other person.

It sounds like a strict regimen, but you will never deny that it is all worth it and so much more important that you had even thought when you were first making plans.

And it IS important. So when we do get the feeling that we’re really ‘getting up there,’  I hope we have made the calls, made the trips, and we’ll end up in a place where we see a great group of forever friends right there with us.

If you or a forever friend is ready to step into your thirties with confidence and success, I’d love to chat! Find out more at ashewoodward.com or email me directly at support@ashewoodward.com.

For Anyone Who Has Told a Kid to “Earmuff it!”.

I was at an amazing event this week – a roomful of female entrepreneurs who are all committed to positive change while creating multi-million dollar companies.

The speeches were fun, thoughtful and really personal – authenticity at its best.  And the most authentic part was the language.  More than a few of the women forgot themselves (as in, forgot about the little ones in the room) and let the F-bombs fly freely.

As the night went on, we just rolled with it and started shouting, “Earmuff it!”, a helpful catchphrase from the movie, Old School, that tells kids when to cover their ears against bad language.  It ended up being such a laugh and a fun solution.

Afterwards, I couldn’t get the “Earmuff it” phrase out of my head and it actually led to a really big AHA moment.

When we’re kids, there are a lot of terrible things for us to hear from adults.  The funny thing is, we never talk about how this doesn’t ever really go away – the content just changes.  In other words, there are still a lot of things we as adults need protection from. 

Maybe there are people in our lives who consistently put us down, or maybe we have a bad day and we just can’t get someone’s nasty words out of our head.

Not to mention how we all can be our own worst enemy at times with the negative self-talk and low self-esteem shamefests that happen behind a happy face.

Oh, how I wish there were a pair of in-brain earmuffs I could wear to block out the mental chatter of my fear, self-doubt and guilt sometimes! 

This crazy idea inspired me to start using the phrase, “Earmuff it,” for a whole new reason.  Just as the adults in Old School tell the kids to, “Earmuff it,” against bad language, we can do the same for put downs and negative self-talk, which is just the equivalent of damaging bad language for adults, don’t you think?

So next time you lack self-confidence or feel down about yourself, Earmuff it!

You’re not good enough.

Earmuff it!

You probably don’t have what it takes.

Earmuff it!

No one will ever take you seriously.

Earmuff it!

You’re kidding yourself.

Earmuff it!

You’re going to embarrass yourself.

Earmuff it!

You get the idea.

Eventually, it gets easier to ignore the negative stuff coming in and it even makes building stronger mental toughness and positivity into a game. Plus, it makes me smile a little at the cheekiness of it all. 

This is even perfect for anyone who’s not really into the whole mantra, woo-woo brand of spirituality and just needs a quick reminder to get out of the usual funks that we crawl into at times.

But, I think it’s something we could all give a try as we continue to carve out the best possible paths for ourselves.

Give it a try this week and let me know how it goes on the Facebook page.

And if you need more helpful, kick-ass spirituality get in touch for personalized sessions to kickstart your dreams (especially if you’re looking to create your own multi-million dollar company that gives back) and get you on your true path to success.

ashewoodward.com

Photo Credit: http://www.aliexpress.com

What One 20-something Thinks of 30.

I can’t get this song out of my head.  It’s called, 7 Years by Lukas Graham.  I usually don’t like this kind of music but the melody is so catchy and his voice reminds me a little of Michael Jackson – and who doesn’t like Michael Jackson?

The song is about Graham (I assume) growing up and the different stages of life.  At “7 years old,” he says, “It was a big big world, but I thought we were bigger/Pushing each other to the limits I thought we were even quicker.”  I love how he paints the picture of himself as an ambitious kid who’s learning and growing and looking up to his parents. 

Then, at “11 years old,” he starts learning even more about life and he starts, “writing stories,” which again I assume means his songs.  And this song definitely is a story, progressing every few years and mentioning everything he learns at different stages with a melody that has been an ear worm for days!

At this point, I’m hooked.  The melody is catchy and the message is inspiring and I feel like the momentum is building. Such a fun song to do the dishes with or play ukulele to.

Graham hits 20 years old and his “story got told,” and he continues to inspire: 

I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure

Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major

In reality, Graham is 23, so this is his current stage and present message.  And even in other interviews he seems to have this same go-getter, positive attitude that’s really inspiring.

But then I hear it,

“Soon I’ll be 30 years old,” my ears perk up.  I can’t wait to hear what he’s going to say about 30, and I almost feel a bit of a mama bear instinct in me wanting to growl, “Be careful what you say, boy.”

But it’s okay, I think he’s got it.  At the very least, he’s saying what everyone generally thinks about 30:

I’m still learning about life [yasss!]

My woman brought children for me

So I can sing them all my songs

And I can tell them stories

I breathe a sigh of relief, “Phew!” Not so bad.  I love that he acknowledges that we are all still learning in our thirties, but that we also have experiences to pass on at the same time. This is exactly why I love this time of life and helping people navigate it.  There’s a lot we have to work with in this decade but also so much room for amazing growth and success.

But then I hear it,

“Soon I’ll be 60 years old.”

What?!  You skipped 30 years in there, Graham!  Is that what you think?  After 30 it’s just all the same until you’re 60? !

I calm down, mostly because the song is still going and I really can’t stress enough that this is a really catchy song.

I remember that he’s pretty normal – it’s what most people think.  And this is why I do what I do.  So many of us in our thirties are even guilty of thinking the same:  We get a job and try and hold steady until retirement and maybe then we can be happy.

Later, Graham wonders if he’ll find happiness or cynicism actually at 60 when he sings, “Will I think the world is cold/Or will I have a lot of children who can warm me?”

I guess, in the end, the song is a reminder to continuously wonder about life and try to keep friends and family close so you’re not lonely.  And even though I would have liked to hear what he thinks 40 and 50 are about, I know the song shouldn’t be 10 minutes long for good radio play. And, in the end, the song is mostly positive and has a cute storyline. 

I’ll give him a pass – even if I just can’t stop singing it!

Watch the video HERE to get this song stuck in your head too.

Help! My Mom Reads My Blog!

In the last little while, I’ve told some pretty candid tales about my reckless decision-making. From blindly moving to a region in Mexico of which I knew precious nothing, to getting a tattoo in my wild teenage years and driving my mom crazy. It’s more than enough to seriously talk anyone out of motherhood.

Not only that, but my mom actually reads this blog, reliving those special moments of my teen years and cringing at all my young and dumb decisions. It really makes me hope that actors who do raunchy nude scenes have super cool parents.

Luckily, I do have a cool mom who takes it all in stride. I warned her once of an upcoming post about being stupid while traveling and she just said, “It’s okay. I hitch-hiked through Europe with your aunt, slept in the street to save money and went to a cottage with strange men. Blah, blah, blah…everyone does it.”

Phew, what a relief. I knew my mom was cool, but not that cool. And, probably like a lot of us, I certainly didn’t think so growing up.

Like most, I wanted to live far away from my parents and lead my own life from the time I was about twelve and a half. Then the butterfly tattoo and the delinquent boyfriend. Then going to university five hours away. Then moving back home. Then wanting to move back out again. Then eventually buying my own house only ten minutes away from her.

I may not have wanted her advice when I was younger but for better or worse, my mom is now the voice in my head and the voice on the other end of the phone. If I’m making a big decision, I always channel what my mom would do. If it sounds good, I’ll go with it. If it’s not really me, and I can’t decide what to do, I’ll call her. She’s known me for 33 years after all, so she can give some pretty good, tailored-to-me advice.

I’m sure she wishes her voice had been a little louder during those teen years, but I personally think I turned out pretty good…

Now that I’m ‘grown up’ I see that having your parents involved in your life isn’t the opposite of freedom. It’s the path to getting closer to understanding unconditional love and how we want to practice that in our adult lives – with our children, spouse, friends, and family.

I know my mom will love me no matter what but I still think it’s good to check in with the old saying, “Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your mother proud.”

So yes, Mother’s Day should be for celebrating great moms and their great advice, but it also stands for being extremely grateful for never-ending, no-matter-what-you-do love.

Thanks for everything, mom;)

Happy Mother’s Day Everyone!

How did you celebrate today?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!