A former hairstylist of mine once said, When a client comes in wanting a new hairstyle, I always know there are changes brewing in their everyday life as well. So… when I decided to grow my hair out a titch and skip a haircut I had a feeling change was in the air.

hair cutOver the last few months I have not felt all that strong or vibrant. I have been relying on others to make me happy and because that is impossible, I have been frustrated and dejected. I had fallen into my old habit of letting others lead rather than self-directing my life. Well… I’m done with that funk.

From Funk to Free

What woke me up? One afternoon of solitude and  an insightful remark from a close friend.

Financial and personal re-hashing with my ex-husband, emotional struggles and everyday activities with my children, late night boyfriend talks, and home maintenance were the drivers of my life.  They drove and I was hog-tied and thrown in the trunk.  There was little space for me to connect with the real me – the one that exists internally. The one that has ideas, connects with all and is solid in her way of being. Not only was I counting on others to lift my spirits but I was allowing them to step on and kick my spirit to the curb. At the same time I desperately wanted to make everyone giddy with joy and security. I was running on empty and running in circles.

But then, I had a few hours to myself.

During those few hours I read this post on love and this post on solitude. Not only did I re-connect with my introverted self but I immersed myself in a like-minded community.  I felt freedom, truth and belonging in one sitting.  In this peace time I was able to un-fuzz my mind and find traction on the fertile ground of self-exploration. I needed to get out of the co-dependent quicksand and LIVE by my own strengths.

Match.com, Biking and Sheep

When I was on Match.com I noticed a phenomenon I’ll call biking syndrome.  Almost every man of a certain socio-economic level listed biking as their passion or at the very least, favorite form of exercise.  That’s great, and in most cases the truth, but also very generic. Had they all went through some sort of divorced hipster school of cycling or is biking just the shiz among modern-day yuppies? Do most women respond to biking like herd-of-sheepcats to catnip or do men think because they own a bike that it’s OK to list biking as a hobby? I am not into biking/cycling but appreciate its fitness and environmental benefits. Even so, I got a little disappointed feeling when I saw biking under the Interests category.  Because it was such a common answer I felt the men who claimed it were more sheep-like than singular.

Well, I was doing my own version of baaing and bleating through life and needed a boot in my wooly butt.  My best friend gave it to me.  One night after listening to me whine about feeling bleh and unsure, she said, You used to be strong and now you are letting others push you around.  You were doing your own thing and not caring what others thought. You haven’t been that girl in a while. 

Ouch. What happened to the woman who wrote this and this? I was no longer leading my life. I was chasing it into an unsatisfying stupor. I was letting others tell me how I should live. I was listening because their ways and methods lined up with the majority of society’s views.  It’s easier and more readily accepted to be like everyone else — a sheep. I sought the comfort of the herd. If I were a guy, I’d be into biking.

Women are supposed to enjoy being needed. We are supposed to need others.  I fall short on both counts but over the last few months I had been trying to meet others’ expectations.

It’s expected and involuntary to respond to all the tugs on your skirt.  It’s life-giving but questioned when you hike up that skirt and run free through the streets in the direction of your ideas.

When we feel stuck, going nowhere–even starting to slip backward–we may actually be backing up to get a running start.

~ Dan Millman via Sensophy

Invest in Yourself

Bye bye victim.  Hello spearheading. Leading requires some level of clarity for me.  I have to solitude birdsget clear on what I want and who I am.  My afternoon of solitude reminded me of how to do that.  My personal truths and beliefs surfaced and I wrote, Introvert’s Love Affair with Solitude: Will It Always Be Taboo?  My most popular post yet.

Once I felt out and away from the pack, making strides in my own direction, I began to put together what I need to spearhead my life.

Dr. Laura Markham of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids says you have to fill your cup up first in order to calmly and lovingly parent. Parenting is an arena where I feel tremendous pressure to be one of the herd but I also vehemently believe that content parents raise content children.

Necessities for Proactive Living or What Fills My Cup:

Community: A support system of non-judgmental, yet insightful individuals who understand my thinking and witness my experiences.  They are fun, encouraging and inspiring. Conversations are seamless and effortless. Their presence is a warm embrace and a ride home. With them I am at home.

Solitude: Time alone to figure things out.  As an introvert I process everything deeply. This takes time and energy. If constantly surround by noise, people and stimulation then my thoughts are not fully formed.  I absolutely must have space to make associations, gain clarity, create and heal. I must have solitude to be at my best.

Exercise: Working out is as much for my body as it is for my mind.  I often find solitude during a run or a strength training session.  Strenuous exercise produces endorphins.  I need endorphins for energy and positivity.

Learning: I had a dream a month ago that woke me in the middle of the night asking, What are you learning? I am a growth and learning junkie.  I need mental and emotional stimulation that moves me.  I am always searching for bits of humanity that I can weave into meaning.

All of the above elements had been seriously limited over the last few months.  My cup was almost empty. In the last week I have tapped all of the above for energy and proactive living.   I took the reigns again and stopped letting others influence my actions.  I re-claimed my spirit. I get to be the black sheep. I get to change my hairstyle.

Are you leading or following? Are you content?

If you would like help spearheading your life, please contact me for personal empowerment coaching. I’d love to work with you.

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:

How to Protect and Liberate Your Energy: A Guide for Introverts and Anyone Who Feels Drained (space2live)

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me but Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) (space2live)

 How to Be Lively, Energetic, and Vibrant When Your True Nature is Thoughtful, Introverted and Reticent (space2live)