Remaining Authentic

I am sitting. Arms wrapped around my sandy knees. The smell of salt, sunscreen and ocean tingle my nose. I can feel my body press into the beach towel below me, and the sand below that. 


I’m taking a break from the heat, sitting under the shade of an umbrella, watching friends play beach volleyball on the two courts in front of me.


There are people all around us. I can hear music playing from at least three different directions, including from one of our courts.


Everywhere I look there are tanned bodies standing at the ready waiting for another chance to hit the volleyball as it flies over the net and gets returned, to eventually hit the sand to shouts of both glee and dismay.


Its another Saturday afternoon and I am once again at my normal stomping grounds - the beach volleyball courts.


It’s amazing to think back and realize I only just joined this group a few months ago and many of my now friends were strangers just a few weeks ago.


I’m sitting in what I would call “my happy place”. I’m doing something I love and I know it. When I am at the courts I feel like I belong, like this is where I should be spending my Saturday.


I am outside, on the beach, with friends, laughing and talking in the sun, getting a tan and getting exercise (which I barely notice most days). This is my heaven. This is me being authentic to who I am, what I want and what makes me happy.


So when I walk away, saying my goodbyes, as the sun dips below the horizon, I glance behind me at the now empty nets standing in silent tribute to the chaos earlier in the day and I know that something is wrong.


The way I feel about volleyball is not the way I feel about the rest of my life. 


Something is off, and I know it.


It’s a gut feeling. A tug. A sense of unbalance. A sense of discontentment.


Remaining authentic to myself is hard.


To the outsider, my life looks great. I’m living in what has to be one of the most beautiful towns in the States, in a cute house, with an awesome roommate. I have a busy social life and active church life. I’m even working a full time job with cushy benefits.


Nothing is wrong with it. In fact, all of it is good, if not very good.


Yet something is amiss. At the gut level I know this without a shadow of a doubt.


So what is going on?


Some people may consider me to be the type that is too sensitive or too pensive. The kind of person who spends too much time in her head. A dreamer…


But is that a bad thing?


See the way I look at it is, we have one shot at life. Everyday is one day less. Every hour is an hour spent of this precious life. Personally, I want to use it to my utmost best ability. I want to take risks and live a life free of regrets. I want to follow my heart and calling.


And I know that where I am now is not it. I can feel my soul crying out to me to take a step, to make a change, to do something different - and I’m frustrated because I feel stuck. Stuck where I am. Stuck among the expectations of friends and family. And stuck in a spot that no one seems to really understand, no matter how hard I try to explain.


This struggle to be authentic remains.


And it’s hard.


Do I know what to do? Not really.


Right now I feel like I am waiting for something to change. For God to meet me and make those next steps clear. For some plan to materialize for the foreseeable future. 


But as of now, it remains a hazy picture.


So I continue. I press on with the feelings of discontent. Exploring different options but not making any decisions yet.


I know I won’t last much longer without something changing, but at the same time I don’t know what to do next. So I wait.


And waiting is hard.


I’m searching for that sense of purpose and belonging in my entire life, not just one aspect of it. This is something I continue to seek with full honesty and heart.


When I find it, I will know.


I found it last year when I worked alongside the Once in Cape Town team in South Africa, until my visa pulled me away.


So I know what it should feel like - and it's just not here in this current moment yet.


So while I wait, I continue to search, read, discover, dream and press on through the day to day.


Because I know that to remain authentic to myself is one of the most important things I am striving for and I will continue to fight for it no longer how long it takes to find again.


Have you struggled with remaining authentic? What did you do? Have you had seasons of waiting? How did you get through it?

How To Figure Out What You Want & The Magic Of Taking Action

Running along the beach, my feel pounding against the rough sand, my breath shallow and quick I found myself at a crossroads. My mind was overwhelmed. Tears were dragging backwards towards my ears as the wind tore at my face. At that moment all I could focus on was putting one foot in front of the other.


I was facing the most difficult decision of my life.


Not only was I considering a complete career change - that would dramatically alter the future - I was also choosing to turn away from what I considered at one point to be the “dream job”. What I had placed much of my identity upon. 


The job I was debating had seemed the perfect intersection of all of my interests; marketing, economic development, nonprofit work, entrepreneurship, mentoring, microcredit, my faith and to top it all off was located in my favorite city in the world - Cape Town, South Africa. 


It was a dream come true.


And yet, I was in the midst of making the decision to derail it. By my own hand.




Because I had known. I had known for a while at that point - that this was not the job for me. That as “perfect” as it had appeared on paper, it did not match up to who I was or what I wanted and needed out of life. However, I was afraid. 


I was afraid to step away from the thing I had told everyone was “perfect for me”. I was afraid of what THEY would think!


I had uprooted and moved my entire life from Santa Barbara, California to Cape Town, South Africa at great cost to me and with a huge amount of support from friends and family all over the country. I was sending out monthly newsletters updating my network about what was going on in my life and all the great things happening at work and in the world I was now a part of.


It seemed too big to give up on. Too big to turn away from. Too big to admit that something was wrong.


I wanted to be wrong. I wanted the gut feeling to be inaccurate - for it to just be some indigestion or a fleeting thought. That God would show me the truth and my uncanny feeling would be wrong.


Instead, it just got stronger. 


Which is what led me to the moment on the beach.


As I stood there, completely alone, with the sound of crashing waves echoing in my ears, feeling the icy water rush up around my feet and my toes sink into the grainy and heavy sand, I felt hopeless.


I had tried so hard and managed to get to my DREAM. Managed to do THE IMPOSSIBLE. And yet, it wasn’t right.


I felt like an ungrateful child of the universe. Like there was something wrong with me. THIS was supposed to be the moment of feeling fulfilled and on top of the world, of knowing I had found my calling.


Instead, I was experiencing the utter disappointment of realizing my “dream” wasn’t actually what I wanted


Admitting that to myself felt shocking and like an impending identity crisis (which it totally was), yet I knew it was the right decision with all my heart and soul.


So on Monday I walked in with a resignation letter ready and resigned.


Was it difficult? Yes.


Was I worried about what people thought about me? Yes.


Did I feel like a complete and utter failure? Yes.


Did I wallow in sadness and disappointment with myself? Yes.


But I did it. And I am so happy I did.


A few months after some soul searching, reading and really getting creative, I finally found something that forced me to grow in completely new ways and blessed me in more ways than I could have ever planned (isn’t God so awesome?!).


Now, just over a year and a half later since the beach moment, I am back in Santa Barbara, California - missing my Cape Town home and family - but also happy and in such a different place emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually - than I was before.


Not only did I reach my goal (which is incredible in itself - I mean I freaking managed to move and work in South Africa!), I also learned a HUGE amount about who I am.


I gave it a shot and it didn’t work. But thats ok.


Recently in BSCHOOL, Marie Forleo said, 


Behave your way to success and the belief will follow.”


Jeff Goins recommends this process:

  • You do it.
  • You believe it.
  • You become it.


Starting before your ready seems to be a common theme, and for good reason. By putting yourself out there and DOING something you get to test the waters out for yourself. 


Think about this - rather than have someone tell you the hot tub is absolutely lovely and you imagine the way the warm water and jets must feel - you actually get in the tub and experience it. And the funny thing is, you may hate it - or you may love it just as much as the next person.


It is the experience that differentiates you. It is what makes you different from the dreamer who never touches her toes to the water. 


Which is why I find myself incredibly thankful for my ex-dream job. I learned that what I thought I wanted, wasn’t actually IT, which has since set me on a path much more aligned with who I believe I am.


“You don’t think your way into clarity. Clarity comes with action.” Jeff Goins


The necessary action was for me to take this job and move halfway around the world in order to discover that what I thought was the ultimate dream, really wasn’t…at least not for me.


And that is ok.


At least I gave it a shot.


Because I would rather have given it a shot, failed and continued to move forward with new goals rather than to have never tried and still be stuck on the same “dream”.


And who knows, maybe this next dream will be another hiccup along the journey of life and will become my second ex-dream. But at the same time, maybe it won’t. Maybe I will have the found the thing that makes my soul sing.


Until then, at least I will know that I have tried.


Do you have any examples of ex-goals? Things you thought you wanted, tried and then realized weren’t for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Some links to check out:

Marie Forleo: BSCHOOL

Jeff Goins: The Best Way to Not Become a Writer (and What to Do Instead)

Stepping Out

Stepping out is scary.


Being vulnerable on this scary platform know as the internet, is honestly, terrifying.


Brené Brown defines vulnerability as, 


“Having the courage to show up and be seen”.

Show Up.


Why is showing up so hard? 


On the door of a gym I once attended, there was a quote that said, “Congratulations! Showing up is half the battle”. They were congratulating me before even working out. It seemed ridiculous. Yet, when I think about it - it’s true. Showing up IS half the battle. 


Be Seen.


What is it about being seen that is so hard?


Is it just me or are we all secret wallflowers feeling like we’re faking it every time we put ourselves ‘out there’.


I know I struggle with the feeling of faking it. Of imposters syndrome.


Often I want to just blend in. To not be noticed. Yet, when you’re crafting a life you love, this just isn’t an option. 


To make friends you have to step out. You have to be the awkward one saying hi on the sidewalk or starting conversation after you’ve been introduced by mutual friends.


To find a new community you have show up. You have to be the “newbie”, create conversation with people you don’t know and sometimes have to sit by yourself the first few times until you manage to connect with someone. 


To create new leads for any business you need to make those awkward phone calls, craft and send those emails and often times just put yourself out there over and over again. 


To develop an online community you have to develop a website, define your voice, craft a blog, start writing, put yourself out there - and hope for the best (with everything you do).


Nobody likes the feeling of everyone’s eyes on them (ok there are some people who love it - but most of us feel intimidated) so when we are in that kind of situation we tend to just fake it.


In all of this there is risk. There is a chance of failure. There is a chance people won’t like you. There is even a chance someone will write something nasty about you (have you looked at YouTube comments?).


However, also hidden deep within all of this risk is the chance of success. Of connection. Of changing the world. Of allowing your authentic voice to shine. Of people feeling empowered by what YOU do.


So when it comes down to it I choose to be vulnerable.


As Marie Forleo often says,


“No other person ever has, or ever will, have the unique blend of talents, strengths & perspective that you have.”


We each have a gift to offer the world. We each have a voice worth being heard. 


So what is stopping people? 


The simple answer is FEAR. But as we all know, it is far more complicated than that.


This past weekend, I experienced this first hand. As a long time Marie Forleo fan, I have been following her work and watching MarieTV for at least a year. Every year she offers B-School for online entrepreneurs and wow is the community amazing! The number of successful entrepreneurs who have come through her program is impressive.


So of course when B-School was announced just a few weeks ago I felt that familiar tug of knowing that this was something I should do. 


However, it is not cheap. Which I completely understand. Any good entrepreneur knows not to undervalue the work they do and to charge fairly. 


So I’m not against the price, but at this point in my life, being in transition, job hunting, having just moved across the country, it seems like financially I just can’t right now. But it doesn’t mean the desire isn’t there.


So when I saw she was offering scholarships - and all you had to do was create a 90 second video describing who you are, what you do and why you should be part of B-School, I knew I had to enter.


She gave us the long weekend to complete the task. She was forcing us to act and act now. Not to deliberate and delay for extended periods of time.


So I waited as long as possible, ruminated, and on the final morning of the contest, posted my video on YouTube.


So now I wait until Friday, when the winners will be announced.


I know I am up against thousands of amazing entrepreneurs, all desiring the same thing, so the chance is small BUT at least I know I tried and that is what matters.


Not only, did it force me to define what it is I want, it forced me to put myself out there. And I did it.


The feeling of accomplishment alone is worth it.


So next time you have the opportunity to put yourself out there, do it. Don’t let fear get in the way. Regardless of the naysayers, you are UNIQUE and have a VOICE worth sharing.




Tell me about the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone in the comments below.

To watch my video entry go HERE.

To see more about the amazing Marie Forleo check out her WEBSITE.

To see more of Brené Brown and the amazing work she does on vulnerability and shame check out her WEBSITE.