In the hottest month of the year, in the steamiest Texas summer, I decided to Let It Burn. I declared four full weeks ago that I would be doing a blog and video series identifying all of the things that I feel we need to burn… and then never wrote a word. Never recorded a single video. Never followed up with another post.
God, I love me.
As it typically goes with me, ideas swirl and churn and pop up and disappear. They brew and stew and percolate until they’re good and ready. Only then will they spill over onto the page. Not one hot second before. I’ve long admired writers who are disciplined and structured, writers who plan to write for 20 minutes a day and manage to pump out beautiful, creative work. I’m not that kind of writer. Nope, never have been. I write mostly from pain, and more recently, discomfort. When I’m happy and living my best life, I’m busy enjoying and savoring and marinating… never writing. So, when you see something from me, know that it simmered for a minute in pain before it ever made its way to the page.
I’m in Mexico this week – one of my favorite places on the planet. It is blazing hot here and I am drenched in sweat almost every second of the day. I am burning, friends. And I am in pain. I am stressed, I am feeling hunted, and I am consumed with fear of a shoe that threatens to drop. And I am reminded of the call to write. Seems fitting that everything else is on fire… why not add a few things of our own?
I once spoke at a Businesswomen’s luncheon on the topic of being enough. The room was filled with successful women from a variety of industries, all successful in their own right. I spoke to them about self-worth. HA! A room full of highly successful, professional women…? Why would THEY need to hear what I had to say about the subject? You already know the answer. If you’re a woman, you absolutely know. They needed to hear the message because no matter how high we go, how much we earn, how many awards we collect, how esteemed we are in our field, we still struggle with feeling worthy. We still question our value. We still look externally for affirmation that our contribution is sufficient. We still doubt that we are enough.
Let it burn, ladies.
I asked those ladies if they had ever known a woman going through menopause. Ever heard of hot flashes? Ever met a woman over 50 who redefined the term self-possessed? I have… and she was a beauty to behold. I think something magical happens around that stage of life, if we let it. I’ve not experienced it myself yet, but I’ve heard it described as a fire from within. A burning sensation so hot that it causes a woman extreme discomfort. I’ve heard stories of night sweats and I’ve seen a friend turn beet red right before my eyes, fan herself, stand in front of an open refrigerator just to get some relief. Skin so hot it felt like a fiery furnace. She was on fire from the inside out.
There is power in that fire.
Similarly, something happens when we let ‘that fire’ burn away the things that don’t matter. Like… other people’s expectations. Other people’s standards. Other people’s behavioral mandates, timelines, control mechanisms. When we place greater emphasis on our own mind, our own moral code, our own goals and dreams and desires, we live happier, fuller lives. When we take care of ourselves, nurture ourselves, and love ourselves, we show up differently and are better able to do those same things to those around us. Women over 50 get it… or should I say many women in that age group do. They’ve passed the point of looking to others for affirmation and validation and permission. They’ve experienced enough of life to know that the opinions of others have absolutely nothing to do with them. They’ve crossed the threshold into a life of freedom from expectations.
Sometimes they wear funny hats. Sometimes they go without a bra. Sometimes they say outlandish or shocking things. Guess what? They. Don’t. Care. What. You. Think. Oh, I am in love with their freedom!!! That fire that threatened to make them pass out? It burned away the extra and left the woman whole.
Here’s the thing: we don’t have to wait for our biological clocks to start the fire. Our bodies will do what they’re supposed to do when they’re scheduled to do it, but we can start sooner if we have the awareness. Our minds, our emotions, our preconceived notions. Our beliefs, our mindset, our norms. Let’s take inventory and throw that which doesn’t serve us right into the fire.
Burn it, babe. Burn it right up.
That neighbor’s opinion you’ve elevated higher than your own? Burn it…
That magazine article that tells you how to starve? Burn it.
That man’s comment on your selfie? Burn it!
That other mommy’s idea of when your kiddo should do XYX? Burn it!!
That family member’s belief that you should or shouldn’t be doing whatever? BURN IT!!!
Want a helpful step-by-step process to follow?
- Ask yourself what needs to burn
- Light a match
- Let it burn
That’s it. I don’t need to tell you what to burn. You already know. You already know, friend. My list is different than yours. Asking me instead of yourself is just switching authority from one external source to another. The answer is not out here, it’s in YOU. It’s your one life. The only one we can prove that you get. Don’t spend it living for other people. Don’t give away your future to others to plan. Don’t surrender your present to other people’s opinions. People are fickle and opinions change. For every thumbs-up you can find 25 thumbs-down. Or the other way around. Quit looking outside for the answers that are already inside of you.
It’s about to get even hotter up in here… July was a scorcher (in many ways) and August promises more of the same. Add a layer of humidity aka weight aka grossness. It’s time to burn. Shed some layers. Set down the weight you’ve been carrying. Live lighter and freer. It’s work, I know. It can be difficult, I get it. Is it worth it? Are you worth it? Yes! Nobody can convince me otherwise. Do it today. Finish reading, add a comment to the blog so you are part of this conversation, then spend a quiet moment with yourself. Find one small thing to burn today. I promise… it will pop right out at ya with very little effort. The hard part is not finding the thing that needs to burn. The hard part is not reaching your hand into the fire to grab it back…
I’m heading to the beach today. I’m shutting down the work laptop and turning off the phone. I’m going to bake in the Mexican sun, sip a limonada con mineral, and let it all burn away.
You are Enough. Totally enough.
Through her vulnerability and a generous dose of honesty and humor, Holly Chamberlain encourages and empowers others to find joy in every moment… even the impossible ones.
Holly is Regional Sales Director for a global pharmaceutical company and Founder of The aMasongrace Project, a suicide prevention organization. She is an advocate, speaker, and blogger. Her widely-read blog, “It’s Just Me” chronicled her journey of surviving suicide loss. Her latest endeavor, “Totally Enough,” is focused on empowering women of all ages to recognize their unique value, to walk in abundance, and to rest in the knowledge that they are already enough. As is.
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Art by Mario Sanchez Nevado – a poster that hangs in my living room, a reflection of me.
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