Inside: Life is messy but we can show up afraid. Joy and pain coexist in a brave and beautiful life. As we stop waiting to feel ready or for life to feel neat and tidy, and learn to show up through fear, grief, or pain, our experience of life changes.
Real-life is messy. A joyful, meaningful, brave and beautiful life will include fear and stress. You’re not doing life wrong if sometimes you feel anxious or afraid, or if your life feels incredibly hard right now. It simply means you need to learn to honour your wiring in this messy world.
And yes, you’re imperfect and still on the journey. You are being stretched and invited into deep growth that you maybe didn’t ask for and probably wouldn’t wish on anyone else. But here is a powerful, life-changing truth: imperfection or struggle does not disqualify you from a beautiful, joyful, meaningful life.
You need to learn to witness your strengths, not only your struggle.
I know what it’s like to feel afraid every day. To live with a vicious inner critic and to hold my breath waiting for the next shoe to drop. To go into fight or flight every time the phone rings. To wish the pain would stop.
I also know what it’s like to finally choose to love who I am, to loosen my grip on life and trust that I have what it takes to meet each new challenge as it comes. To open up to joy and beauty amid the messiness of life. To practice taking imperfect action through fear instead of hiding on the couch under the covers, or numbing myself to get through the day.
It takes work, but door number 2 is a whole lot more fun.
By befriending ourselves and becoming intimate with our deepest vulnerabilities, we create an opportunity for experiencing life fully.Pema Chodron
Showing up to life through fear and with joy: my journey through the seasons
As a highly sensitive human, the Spring Season of my life was marked with feeling like somehow I was not cut out for this world – it was too heavy. I didn’t know what to do about the suffering in the world or the pain I felt. I lived with suicidal ideation until 18 when I committed to live (the first significant choice-point of my life).
Meeting my husband at 22 and starting a family (my first and primary dream) was an incredible gift and I determined to heal and provide a safe, affirming, creative life for my babies. I had a lot to learn and though I was loved, I didn’t have any models in my life to guide the way to emotional resilience or the freedom I was looking for. I got busy ‘doing’ all the right things, trying to work my way toward wholeness but never felt like I could keep up or measure up. I was chronically steeped in fear.
In 2005, my third child was born and I encountered the second significant choice-point of my life. As I held this little person in my arms, I realized that for her sake and mine, I was going to learn to love my body and my Self. It was here, in a Summer Season of life, that I learned about the roots of my perfectionism, I recognized that I’d been living with anxiety and low-grade depression my whole life without any support for it and could now bring compassion to how hard I’d had to work simply to live each day.
I learned that I was a Highly Sensitive Person. I shifted from a focus on doing and jumping through all the hoops into more being. I also began a powerful and healing practice that changed my experience of life, that softened my relationship to myself, and that helped me hold tight to hope no matter what else was happening in my world.
My practice of Seasonal Living started with tracking my menstrual cycle and eating more with the seasons (menstrual or lunar tracking is a beautiful way to learn to work with instead of against your natural wiring for more ease, mood balance, and joy!). As I studied natural nutrition and mind-body health, and as I grew into my own wisdom and strength and put down strong hardy roots of self-awareness and self-compassion, my practice deepened.
I hungrily searched out books or resources about the woman’s life cycle or cyclical living but there were few to be found back then. And as I stepped into my Autumn Season, and I planted my feet and faced fear head-on to start my business in 2015 (dream no.2), I excitedly wove my seasonal way of seeing and being into my work with clients, right from the start.
You’re imperfect. Life is messy. Show up anyway.Krista xo
In 2016 the first tender seed of my first book (part of dream no.3 which is to have a voice) was planted and tended until I had the emotional and energetic capacity for it. I was going through a whole lot of hard, and though I signed a contract in 2021 the book needed to wait, yet my vision for it never wavered. I was living what I wanted to write and talk about. It was not theory but a life-line for me in the midst of the storm. In my impatience to jump through the pain into the fun stuff of life, my inner voice recently reminded me that we have to live the end of one story before writing the next.
My book (spring 2025 release) uses the gift of story to walk us through the seasons of an intense and fruitful season of my life. My hope is that it will encourage and empower other ‘messy humans’ who feel like they don’t fit well into this world, and who need to know they are not bad, wrong, or broken. It will offer new seeds of thought – of hopeful and joyful possibility – to support them as they return to a compassionate and soul-honouring way of being in their bodies and lives.
In 2018 I showed up through fear, very imperfectly but on purpose, to launch my first course called Show up Afraid that included seasonal wisdom. In 2019, I published the 52 Mondays: Seasonal Mindfulness Journals series in the final year of my son’s life (talk about fear!).
Also in 2019, amid the messiness of life, four weeks before a traumatic car accident, 7 weeks before my beautiful and hurting son died by suicide and I was thrown head-first into Winter, I finally said yes and stepped through fear to open up the Brave + Beautiful Membership Community. In this warm and growth-minded space I get to teach and practice, in community, all the stuff I’m passionate about, including my framework for Seasonal Living. Clearly, there’s a theme here.
I know what it feels like to live with constant anxiety, to experience panic attacks and dissociation, to live in chronic pain, and to show up through and beyond fear, profound grief, and trauma. My family and I have buried many people we love far too soon. I have lived experience of trying to keep my child alive and then learning to live without him. I’m speaking to what I know and walking my talk.
It takes incredible effort to choose joy in the midst of heartache, to name our strength and our struggle, shame and judgment-free, as we pursue our dreams and build lives we’re proud of. I’ve studied mind-body health, mindfulness, self-compassion, nervous system regulation, resilience, somatic practices for trauma healing, grief work, and more (all of it empowering!). I’ve gleaned countless evidence-based practices that help me and the women I work with. I’ve worked my butt off to grow, stretch, heal, and become more fully myself.
I’m grateful that fear is no longer a dominant theme in my story; I’m writing a new story now (2022). Yet I still have to be mindful day by day (or moment by moment as needed) to turn my gaze towards joy.
The practice that has changed my life more than any other, and that allows me, as I heal forward after a long and brutal winter season, emerging into spring once more, to continue showing up to work and life with freedom, wholeness, and joy, is my anchoring and life-giving practice of Seasonal Living.
It’s less of a “how-to” (though I absolutely love geeking out over the practical application of it) and more a cognitive, emotional, and embodied road-map for a compassionate, brave, and beautiful life. A way of being in relationship with ourselves, our life, and the world around us.
There are many paths to wholeness. This is one.
A critical part of reclaiming freedom, wholeness, and joy is naming our fear, shame and judgment-free. Naming it, building our internal and external resources so we can feel vulnerable emotions like fear (but also grief, rage, and joy) without crumbling, and then consciously choosing our response. As Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Krista xo
show up afraid: a seasonal road-map
While I’m no longer selling my Show up Afraid Course from 2018, there are other ways you can learn to show up through fear as often as needed to mine for the gifts in every season and reclaim your freedom, wholeness, and joy in a messy and noisy world. We need models of what’s possible or else we live limited by our old, conditioned, fearful patterns.
- Gather with other brave, weary, and curious women inside the Brave + Beautiful Community. Our January – April 2023 session will take us deeper into embracing paradox (aka: joy and pain live tangled up together in a brave and beautiful life) and teach members how to weave Seasonal Living practices into their lives in practical ways and how to honour their wiring in a messy world.
- Reach out to work with me one-on-one – for compassionate, evidence-based, trauma and grief-informed private coaching.
- Lean into the season you’re in with the help of a Seasonal Mindfulness Journal. They’re available in digital or soft-cover.
- Enjoy the Show up Afraid Workshop (replay available). Learn more or buy the workshop here.
Whatever you do, don’t wait for some perfect day when you no longer grapple with fear to choose joy, or appreciate your life, or to do the work required to bring your vision to fruition.
Fear is simply a normal human emotion. You can learn to sit with fear as it arises without attaching to the story it spins, you can come to recognize your inner strength, wisdom, and capacity to do hard things. And you can practicing showing up afraid to what you want or need.
You can live with joy, TODAY, amid the messiness of life. No waiting or perfect circumstances required.
You don’t have to choose between self-compassion and doing hard things. Or between loving yourself well and pursuing your dreams. You don’t have to wait until you feel ‘ready’ or your life is neat and tidy and you know what the heck you’re doing all the time. You can show up to your messy and beautiful life in a soul-honouring way, through fear, even in the hardest seasons.
Joy and hope, excitement and self-confidence can live alongside your fear or pain, grief, uncertainty, or struggle, if you’ll allow it. You can learn that often what we’re most afraid of is fear itself and we can live in freedom from fear.
You can write a new story for your life in which you acknowledge fear, without running, numbing, or suppressing, but fear no longer gets to be in the driver’s seat or take over your life. It’s also good to know that as we expand our capacity for the fullness of life, fear shows up less often and it’s voice becomes quieter.
And in the meantime, you can feel fear and show up anyway.
Originally published Sep 2, 2018 as Show Up Afraid
The Brave + Beautiful Community is for brave and curious women in the middle season of life. Befriend your true self and reclaim your inner wisdom, bravery and strength. You’ll also have the opportunity to build beautiful friendships with like-minded women doing this inspiring work!