As I planned the first issue of this e-magazine, I felt compelled to appear on its cover. It felt risky – I had the usual concerns that it would be misconstrued as a little narcissistic. Or worse, try-hard.
I am not seeking to achieve an Oprah, Ita or Maggie T effect, trust me. I know that I am none of those good women – yet I am. We all are. And, I realise, that’s exactly my point.
Like them, when we earnestly stand up in public view and share our unique value with others in the work we do, we must not hold back. Self-deprecation benefits no one.
Like them, we all have our self-assessing ‘voices’, make our mistakes, and learn as we go.
Like them, we must be unafraid to be seen, to be human, and to be vulnerable, as we make our important contributions to this world.
Definitely a discussion worthy of the cover piece in this first issue!
Who do you think you are?
The internal dialogue I wrestled with when making the cover decision for that first issue will be familiar to many.
Just as it’s easy to split the audio and visual tracks of a film into separate files, many of us have the uncanny ability to split our own bank of memories into two separate film tracks – a highlight reel containing what we feel are our best moments, and a blooper reel full of our own self-judged worst moments, craziest decisions, and greatest failings.
When the blooper reel gets much more brain time than the highlight reel, because it’s often the longest and loudest, with high res imagery, we are thinking ourselves into paralysis.
My blooper reel was looping on high-speed there for a while as I played with the cover-girl concept, then I pushed ‘stop’. It is no help at all when it’s time to step out of the familiar – especially when your final destination is uncertain.
That brave step forward requires the highlight reel containing your successes to be on replay, backed by Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best!’
As editor of this magazine for strong women, I realised my responsibility is to stand up and take the spotlight from time to time, when that will encourage others to do the same.
Who are you thinking yourself to be? Push ‘eject’ on the blooper reel, and begin playing your highlight reel every day. It is a testament to your strength – and it is enough. It is the proof you need that you can do this thing.
Life is change
Reinvention is something I am very good at and I am sure I am not alone in this. Like most women, changes in my life have been both confronting and enriching.
Backpacking for two years in Asia, Europe and Africa during my 20s, taking chances and bouncing between the odd jobs that came my way was bliss – most of the time.
Home again, and changing careers from teaching to something – anything – less stressful and more receptive of my true nature was an education in itself, which opened up the option of multiple incomes. In the process I discovered the world of self-publishing and realised the need for career transition support. I now work in both fields.
Becoming a mum to four wonderful children, now adults, was the ultimate path to reinvention – even when I felt I wasn’t so good at the job.
Meeting a wonderful man in my 50s and creating a loving home-base for seven people with five different surnames was another highlight – happiness forged from the fires of change.
However there have been times when I have felt pummelled and flung to the edge of terrifying brinks by forces beyond my control.
Fearfully leaving an abusive marriage, seeking refuge, then setting up a new home with two small children was something so foreign to the world I grew up in. Facing solo-parenting again ten years later, this time with four children, was something I would have never anticipated as a young woman.
But, like most women, I stayed firm, dug deeper, took time to learn about myself, and then turned my face to the sun. I imagined and desired a good life, and did what I could to make it happen. Stronger every day. Resolute.
Now in my career coaching and publishing work I help smart, talented women take the next big step in their lives, yet often they doubt their brilliance, especially just before they go public. (Pre-publishing panic is a very real phenomena. I know it well.)
As Dr Valerie Young, an expert on the Imposter Syndrome, would agree, we seem to focus more easily on why we aren’t good enough than on why we are. We often seem to need external validation and reassurance before we take a step into our own brave new world.
But while we are waiting for that to arrive – and who are we handing that responsibility to, I wonder – we are doing a disservice to others who need what we have to give.
Oprah, Ita and Maggie T began somewhere. They brought their own magic mix of energy and ability to the table. They fought their demons, they learned, practised, refined, failed, and reinvented. They are so much more than women in the spotlight – they are women with dreams and with impact.
Reinvention is about beginning. That is enough. Find the right people. Trust that the rest will fall into place.
Create your own highlight reel and picture it every day. Better still, create a trailer to a new film, showing you and the world a snippet of what your life at its best will be.
You are the leading lady, after all!
“Every one of us is called up on, probably many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job. And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore.” – Barbara Kingslover
Ten ways to put yourself on the cover of your own life…
- Thanks. Practise gratitude every day. Find three things to be thankful for. Write them down and make this a ritual.
- Know your style. Spend some time identifying your style – not just your most complimentary look, but how you best live life feeling totally at ease with you. Dress to feel great, whatever that may look like. Be brave and find your unique superpower outfits for different occasions. Shine your light. Release your remarkable – it’s time!
- Ask. When feeling lost, take a moment to reflect. You don’t need to know how good things will manifest before you start. Just begin to picture what they look and feel like and ask to be shown how you can achieve them.
- Fan the flame. See unexpected beginnings as a spark for a new life force. Trust that you can find new ways to find joy. Seek those little moments of pleasure.
- Reshape. It takes a lifetime to become who we truly are. We are all still learning and growing with each passing day. Even broken pieces of our lives can become part of a new and beautiful mosaic.
- Reward. We must relish and reward our own true nature. The most important words we speak are those we say to ourselves. When we measure ourselves against others, the results are always skewed.
- Elevate. Surround yourself with positive people who lift you up. Be the person who lifts others. Step up to new ideas and new experiences. Old thinking will not get new results – take on learning.
- Illuminate. Recognise the gifts you have to share, and let people know you are available. Your light can reveal a path for others, and may be just what they need to show them the way. What you feel is a small contribution can be huge to others.
- Do stuff. Make a decision – then get things done. Grow things. Make things. Talk to people. Create beauty – don’t wait for someone to deliver it to your door. Action creates energy – so get moving, and you will feel excited by life.
- Feature. Create the next intriguing and adventurous chapter of your life, whether that is cottage-scale or luxury. Write your own story. Put yourself on the cover of your life!
Bev Ryan is the founder and editor of Honestly Woman magazine: she works at the intersection of career growth & publishing. Find out more here.