It’s been a while since I finished writing a blog post. My secret stack of unfinished articles has been growing steadily and it seems that I’ve done a great job at making sure none of them will ever see the light of day.
Truth? I got caught in a sort of 33rd-year
crisis awakening. Apparently, it’s not uncommon and has even been referred to as a “Jesus Year”. A year of abandoning your old ways and being reborn in some way. So yes. It is a thing. And no. It isn’t exactly pretty. Hence the lack of sharing.
You’ll be glad to know I am writing this having made it safely to the shores of year 34. And it feels like Spring at last. It feels like riding my bicycle on the quays of the Rhône river on my way to university lectures back in 2004. The fresh morning breeze would dance with my flowy skirt and stroke my bare legs as I pedalled to the sound of the Strokes, Belle & Sebastian and PJ Harvey. My iPod was as big as my dreams and there was no place my baby blue Converse could not take me. It was a time of infinite nerdiness, cool older friends, playing on stage and dreaming of moving to London. That Spring feeling is engraved deep under my skin. I can feel it right now. And it’s so good.
Sitting in the dark
It’s that good because Winter has been that long. Game of Thrones sort of long. I reached a point in my life where I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. I felt incredibly stuck for no particular reason. This feeling had progressed in such an insidious manner that I grew accustomed to it, thinking it was my new normal. I wasn’t sure where Marie was anymore among the mom, wife, friend, daughter, creative entrepreneur. It’s like I was losing my identity to my many roles. I realised I was picking up cues from others. I’d forgotten all about my intuition and was acting the way I thought others expected me to. It was my way of keeping safe. My way of belonging.
Until this felt unbearable.
I remember sitting at my dining room table in Lusaka, recalling that Spring morning feeling. That sense of infinite possibilities. That confidence and joie de vivre. Where had it gone? I then felt the need to deconstruct myself completely, look at all the pieces of my colourful mess and sort them into piles: keep, toss and I-m-not-quite-sure-what-to-do-with-you-yet. This required getting used to a near constant state of uncertainty. I inspected my thought patterns, revisited past events, took stock of my beliefs and values. I attempted to declutter anything I felt did not belong to me and got better acquainted with my shadows. Not so surprisingly, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in the midst of all this soul-searching, but that’s a story for another day.
It was tough work. I discovered that becoming comfortable with one’s not so Instagrammable side is where deep, meaningful work takes place, allowing you to become whole. And wholeness? It tastes like Spring. Like freedom. It’s a shortcut to radical self-love and acceptance.
So as hard as rummaging through shadows may be, that’s the kind of work I’m ok with pursuing every day.
I feel like I’ve made it through the roughest part of Winter. Now feels like a propitious time to plant seeds and be intentional about my next steps. So allow me, as I feel the first rays of sunshine on my skin, to share with you what has come out of this deep inner work and let you in on some of the seeds I have been planting.
Finding my voice, helping you find yours
At the heart of this self-exploration journey has been an urge for honing my true voice. A lot of my blockages have come from a lifelong habit of muting myself when I should have simply talked. I strongly believe that using your raw, unedited voice is still very much an act of bravery for women. For some more than others.
And I want nothing more than to help women birth their truth, explore the space around and within them. I want them to fall in love with the complex and colourful mess that they are and take up their rightful place in the world.
This comes with stories of women. Women who have found their space, still searching or just beginning. Women like you, women like me.
I also believe this comes with each and every one of us finding the courage of being our beautiful, unedited selves, thus giving permission to our sisters to do the same. And I plan on doing this in all facets of my work. This is why I am plotting a podcast for January. Just writing this is making my self-doubt go into overdrive, which tells me this is all the more important to pursue. As intimidating and imperfect as it’s going to be.
The words I write
Writing has played a huge part in this transformation and my ongoing healing. My lack of publishing does not mean I have not been writing. Oh no. I have covered page after page in my journal, religiously dumped my thoughts doing morning pages, scribbled thoughts, ideas, questions, lists, words. I have now reached a point where I feel the need to share what I write in a simpler, more truthful way. Which is why I joined Huma Qureshi’s beautiful course: The Quiet Words.
Her soft and gentle approach to writing has been the perfect nourishment to this precious little seed, and the sort of accountability and guiding I needed to turn my unformed ideas into meaningful new shoots.
So you’ll find me write more regularly on this blog, in my lengthy Instagram captions and my soon to be relaunched newsletter. I want to play with and nurture my true writing voice to connect dots and connect humans. It will be clumsy no doubt. But I have experienced first hand that there is nothing more dangerous than unused creativity. So I plan on erring on the side of caution by spreading mine generously.
Living simply and intentionally
“Do not brandish yourself for veiled permanency. Allow change in your writing as you allow change in you, the writer.” Erin Loechner
I feel like I have outgrown my blog. I have changed, and my online platform needs to accommodate for this change too. I no longer want to limit myself to a niche because that’s what the rules of blogging tell you to do. I want to connect with humans, not an algorithm. I don’t have time to play the Pinterest game for blog traffic. I want to use my blog to spark questions, arouse curiousity, and tickle the stiffest minds. I want to spread empathy, light and love thicker than the almond butter on my toast. I want to leave crumbs of truth, kindness, calm and hope all around me.
I am aware this may not be the most strategic business decision, but I just don’t want to just add to the ever-growing online noise. My little seeds may be soft-spoken, but they carry the DNA of powerful change.
I launched this blog a year ago. I have changed more during that time than ever before, and I have never felt closer to myself. I realised that as freeing as minimalism has been for me on this journey, and let’s face it, was the beginning of it all, it was also a nice cover for over controlling and perfectionist tendencies. So rather than calling myself a minimalist, messy or not, I want to focus on living a simple, intentional life, where I make a happy soup out of mundane marvels. And one that I don’t feel the need to brand with a hot iron. Where I can invite you along my messy and imperfect journey, in the hopes that it will comfort, challenge or at least provide a welcome pause in your day.
The space we hold for each other
Minimalism gave me the time and space I needed to carry out this work, but I would not have gone very far on my own. Working with coach Sas Petherick has been nothing short of life-changing. Sas is like a rebel fairy godmother/self-doubt whisperer who has helped me find my way home to my true self and showed me that my very own worn-out sneakers make for a much happier ending than all the glass slippers on social media.
Our work triggered utter clarity around how I want to be of service to others: help women heal, bloom and find their true voice through my writing, podcasting, and coaching. My inner nerd was overjoyed to have an excuse to bring out my coloured pens and a brand new Muji notebook as I found my way back into student mode and joined the Beautiful You Coaching Academy.
And you know what? I have a feeling I could be really good at this. Which takes me to my next seed.
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.”
I’m afraid self-care won’t cut it for me. I’m after rebellious, radical self-love. My recent health diagnosis was the last wake up call I needed in this regard, and I am discovering the depth, spiritual aspect even, that comes with unapologetically loving your body, your shadows, your gifts, your soul.
This will be a long and winding road, but once you’ve tasted what real self-love feels like, there’s no turning back. I have officially entered uncharted territory. See you on the other side.
Watering my seeds
Now comes the fun part. Watering carefully, nurturing each of these little seeds and trusting that with enough love and compassion, they will bloom in their own time.
The hard part will be to trust that my timing is the right timing. To avoid the comparison game. To keep the dialogue open with myself, so that I don’t fall back into old patterns. To feel the fear and do it anyway.
I’d love to know: what seeds have you been planting lately?
In the meantime, I’ll leave you in the excellent company of Nina Simone in this beautiful cover of Here Comes the Sun.