A little over year ago, every inch of space in my life was taken up with something to do, somewhere to be, someone to meet. I was pushing myself to impossible limits, believing that was what it meant to be a superwoman. But I was burned out, a robot joylessly going through the motions. I knew I had to change. – Alicia Keys, Glamour Magazine, November 2008
It's been 14 years since I first read that quote in Glamour. I was 28, living in West Hollywood, at the height of my fashion career days.
There are few, few things I keep these days. As I’ve gotten older, my need for barriers between the public and private views of my life on the Internet has become something I’m especially mindful of.
This is due in part to the fact my life has become more thoughtfully lived. I'm more intentional and slower…and more hidden. As so many people keep speeding up, I’ve drawn a line I’m not willing to cross, I’ll not follow the cadence of what others tell me I need to move at, it’s unhealthy.
This article, the one you’re reading right now, is one I’ve updated each year, for the past twelve years because of how symbolic it’s been in my evolution personally and professionally. Alicia's quote has been posted on a bulletin board in my office since it first appeared in Glamour in 2008.
For whatever reason, I’ve never been able to give it up or forget it. I think it continually reminds me that as women, our lives are infinitely complex. We’re wives or significant others, we are caretakers, givers, we are business executives, we are life coaches, and life providers.
- Decisions: Everyday, we’re faced with choices we feel that we have to make, right NOW – that overwhelm us, make us question ourselves…out of fear or the inability to believe in ourselves…
- Decisions: Those choices often leave us slaves to social norms, our fears cripple us and prevent us from moving towards what we truly want in our lives because it goes against what society says we should be or what we should aspire to.
- Decisions: Sometimes going against the grain and saying, “No, I am important. I deserve what I desire,” is what we need to do, even if it scares us. And honestly, it’s our right.
I’ve been the superwoman that Keys spoke of, losing her ability to say no. It was a dangerous place to be, almost losing myself.
But I caught myself, reclaimed pieces of my soul that I’d let others take, reached out to a support network and avoided the disasters that many women are too blind to see. In the past year, a lot of people have asked me how I did that and how I do what I do today. My response:
My heart leads my actions, not my mind. The Bhagavad Gita states that “The mind acts like an enemy for those who do not control it.” Therefore, my heart rules my decisions and actions. I’ve learned to replace fear with courage. Courage to go new places, courage to change direction or walk a different path, and courage to move towards the things that I only get glimpses of in daydreams.
When I saw what I wanted start to manifest, I kept moving towards it. I still am, seeing my daydreams become my reality little by little. I believe that our heart knows what we need and where we need to go. Your heart can’t want something that isn’t right for you. Your higher conscious, your true self, won’t allow it. If you can’t believe that, it’s your mind mucking up what your true self is telling you.
I decided to become a new kind of superwoman, one that’s imperfect, and one that’s:
I’ve decided to be one that’s led by her heart and who’s comfortable in her own skin. While she stands on her own, she’ll also lean on the people she needs most.
I’ll also be the one who finds new ways to do something because I simply don’t believe in the current systems constructed to get success and “what I desire” available in the world today. I put the article away today, I no longer need it. I invite you along for this journey as it unfolds, right here.
A friend is someone who looks out for you when you’ve forgotten how to look out for yourself. Let their love guide you. – Alicia Keys
This posted is dedicated to Ruth Staiman who died fourteen years ago of breast cancer and was the catalyst for this original post. Thank you for being an amazing woman, a true force of nature and always providing light in the dark, even when your light was dimmed.