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Just this past fall I took a memoir writing class and found myself writing and sharing things I’ve never shared with anyone–and bawling my eyes out in a room full of strangers along with it.  I’ve spent so much time bottling the troubles of life away (there’s a whole lot more that goes to my story of being a teen mom), and it’s all just come bursting out these past couple of months.

Today I’m writing alongside a group of women that amaze and inspire me for the Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You. project. We’re getting real for 2014. 

I’ve spent a big part of my life looking to others to see if I was doing a good job at being me. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? We all seek validation to some extent, but all that seeking outside of myself has only ever left me feeling inadequate. And inadequacy in high doses over a long period of time is crippling, to say the least.

Late last summer when my husband and I decided to leap headfirst into homeschooling, I had high hopes (and a bundle of nerves to go with it, too). I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but many days we did just that. I’m not a schedule person at all, and I loved the freedom of living life on our time (and not rushing to wake up in the mornings). I like to go with the flow, but I quickly learned that the flow just wasn’t going most of the time with some of the attitudes and heart adjustments that needed tending to with our kids. I also became terribly aware of my own pressure cooker I’d had on the back burner for a long time. And I just started to crumble.

I can’t say exactly when things started to go bad this time around, but I’ve had a lifelong issue with depression. And the self-imposed pressure of being the best homeschooling, blogging, stay-at-home-mama of four was too much. I found myself turning into mama-Hulk with my kids and puddles with my husband. I wasn’t the happy mama I wanted to be and I felt guilty. It got dark inside. It was hard admitting to myself that I couldn’t ‘do’ homeschooling right now, but both my husband and I knew we needed to take some of the weight off asap.

So we started our two older boys back at school just before Christmas. I was a nervous wreck of course, but it all went fine. And I started to come up for air. I lightened my load as much as I could over the holidays, and sought more time to reflect and breathe. I met with my spiritual counselor and went to see a holistic nutritionist.

In my breathing and slowing down and reaching out for myself, I’ve realized there’s a lot that’s been going on under the surface for years that I’ve always considered normal. And I’ve let that abnormality become who I am.

Beverly Donofrio, bestselling author of Riding in Cars with Boys says in her most recent memoir, Astonished,

Your true self is the seed of the soul that was in you when you were born, it is you in the original, before the rewritings, embellishments, the walls of denial, your fortresses erected to protect you from pain. It is who God made you to be; it is the divine inside of you. It is what Christ saw when he looked at the Samaritan woman at the well.

It’s painful when who you want to be and who you really are collide.

Only by looking at the pain, by feeling it, giving it attention, loving it, does it release, or is it transformed.

I want to journey back to my true self this year. Take a hard look at the things I’ve been ignoring.

I’m on my first-ever detox diet this month (under the guidance of my nutritionist), and I’m learning about the incredible importance of replenishing and balancing hormones (I truly believe this is the balance so many of us are searching for). I’ve planned a retreat to the middle of nowhere in a just a couple of weeks, and I’m keeping my load as light as possible as I seek God’s still quiet voice calling from inside.

I’m not feeling very bold in life right now, but I hope to get there. And I know there’s brilliance and beauty beneath the layers I’ve been clinging to for so long. How will you seek to be more you this year?

 About the Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You. project:

Throughout the year, I’m joining forces with some of my blogging friends to motivate and encourage ourselves and others to be bold and step out from behind the lens, projects, and mama status to show ourselves. That’s right, we’re doing something just for us.

And we’re inviting you to join us! Each of us has something bold, brilliant and beautiful inside—whether it’s a dream to ask for a promotion, wear those sparkly shoes in the back of our closet, or start a non-profit. The #boldbrilliantbeautiful project is a support group for all of us seeking to be real and vulnerable. No judging, no questions, just support and words of encouragement.

Here’s a list of all the other #boldbrilliantbeautiful bloggers who will be sharing their hearts along with me this year:

imagine gnats
casa crafty
Made with Moxie
this heart of mine
The Southern Institute
small + friendly
Kids Stuff World
Classic Play
Even If Nobody Reads This

Be a part of the project by using #boldbrilliantbeautiful on Instagram and Twitter to find other women like you, who are looking to make 2014 their best, most authentic year yet!

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