LIVE. LOVE. LEAD.

Join our community of 50,000+ incredible women and receive weekly musings on the Artistry of Freedom.


The world will be set free by women who are free. Sisterhood is the key.

Lessons from a year of strength

At the turn of each year, I reflect on my most memorable moments – the brightest and darkest – of the last 12 months.  For each one, I ask myself: What lesson have I taken from this experience? 

The lessons we learn – the beliefs that carve-out neural pathways – get reinforced over time. We walk through life and intentionally or unintentionally look for “proof” that they’re true, whether we’d say we want them to be true or not. If we “learn” that men can’t be trusted or that people only care about themselves, we’ll likely continue to find “proof” that those beliefs are true, even though they’re not absolute. Searching for and dismantling faulty beliefs is important.

Just as clearing out the cobwebs regularly takes much less of a toll than trying to clear out years of built-up gunk, such is our mind. So each year, after reflecting honestly on what lesson I’ve already taken from each experience, the question I ask is: What empowering lesson can I take from this experience?

2012 was the Year of Adventure.
2013 was the Year of Courage.
2014, you’ve grown me up even more and taught me Strength…

 January 14th: I remembered myself

IMG_9822

Goddess of Love

For the past few years, I’ve chosen my teachers simply because I feel called to work with them, rather than because it seems like the “right” thing to do, from a strategic perspective.  So when I was invited to be part of my dear sister, Elayne Kalila Doughty‘s, first Priestess Mysterium, I said yes…and had no idea what I was in for.

I hadn’t “forgotten” myself, per se, but in the process of learning about different feminine archetypes, I was able to remember my natural gifts – the feminine archetypes that I most naturally express as.  In honoring that I am naturally drawn to create and nurture beauty, I was able to celebrate this core of myself.

LESSON #1 : We are snowflakes.
It’s no newsflash to say that we are all unique, but I came home to a deeper honoring of the unique gifts and expression of each person, and an appreciation for our natural spark.  No doubt, much of the way we express is affected by our own fears, beliefs, and life experience, but underneath that there’s a thumbprint.  I love that.

March 6th: My heart doubled in size

IMG_2304

Love, being infinite

2014 was my fourth year running my Freedom Mastermind.  Each year, I had completely fallen in love with the women in the group, and when the next year came around I would wonder how on earth I’d find enough room in my heart to love other women as much.

But as the 2014 Costa Rica retreat approached, I found myself in a puddle of tears, completely unable to fathom the possibility that I could hold so many women in my heart, and love them with such depth.  I felt beyond unprepared for the task and feared that I’d meet these new women and simply fail to love them as much as I wanted to.  And then they arrived…and I melted.

LESSON #2 : The heart is infinite
I’ve heard women, pregnant with their second children, wonder a similar thing: Can my heart hold that much love?  It can.  And it’s exquisite.  By showing up with an openness to love, and by simply being in their beautiful presence, the idea that love could have limits became laughable.  Hallelujah.

March 21st: I held it down

Healing waters

Healing waters

I led a second Costa Rica retreat, for my Inner Sisters Circle – women who had been already worked with me for a year.  We’d traveled to the depths together many times, navigating our lives as a true sisterhood.   We were thick as thieves.

On the last night of the retreat, after a week of showing up for one another beautifully, at a depth that exceeded anything I’d ever witnessed, there was a misunderstanding between some women and things started to fray.  Upset stirred; feelings were hurt.  It was clear that there was some shadow mirroring at play – self-judgment coming out as judgment of others, and deep-seated fears and outdated patterns revealing themselves.

For the first time in my life, there was disharmony in one of my circles, and when I felt the first crack in our container, I wanted to evaporate.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to hide.  How would I hold all of them in love, even in conflict?  How grounded could I be within myself in the face of their doubt, fear, and deep trigger?  How would I return us to harmony?  Would everything fall apart? 

Lesson #3: Sisterhood is medicine
I immediately grounded my energy, asked my soul to take the helm, pried my heart open, and stepped in.  Within minutes, we were back on the path, and soon enough we found our way back home to harmony.  As we moved through it, we talked about our varied desires: to run, hide, fight, check-out emotionally, put on a fake smile.  We got really real.  And in the end, each and every woman (including me) healed a part of us that was ready to be healed.  Before that day, I had long understood that the gentle and nurturing space of sisterhood was healing for us all.  But this experience had me understand an even broader power of sisterhood – to shine a light on our deeper wounds, to heal them, individually and collectively…even in conflict.  Sisterhood is medicine, potent and beautiful.

May 9th: My marriage

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock

After the vision of a self-marriage ceremony came to me clearly in a meditation, I slowly let down the walls of resistance and allowed myself to sit with it.  In a short time, I was moved to tears with the beauty of it: to commit to be with myself for the rest of my life, to commit to being present with myself and my heart, to commit to showing up in devotion to my mission, and to commit to taking care of myself in this lifetime.  The beauty of it was breathtaking.  In that moment, I not only wanted it for me, I wanted it for every woman. On a visit to Sedona to see my friend KC Baker, this vision became a reality, as she led me in a private commitment ceremony to myself and my life’s work.  The full story is here.

Lesson #4: Devotion can deliver freedom
I’ve come to realize that my resistance was borne of shame.  Was it narcissistic?  And so I examined it and was struck with how much we judge self-love.  Devotion to others?  Beautiful.  Devotion to self?  For shame!  But we teach love by loving, we show others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves, and we make the difference in the world we want to make by being the change.  Devotion – to self, to love, to making a difference – is the path to freedom.

May 17th: I REVEALed

Revealing

Revealing

I had said yes to an invite-only event in Boulder, CO.  Reservations had been made.  And then I was invited to speak at REVEAL in NYC – an event that was affectionately dubbed “lady church”.  In my heart, I knew I had to go.  I didn’t know what I’d talk about, I was tired of travel, and I felt awful about breaking my agreement to go to Boulder.  But I knew I had to. I found every ounce of courage I had to tell the Boulder event organizer.  He was disappointed, but understood.  Then, I found every ounce of courage to tell the story of how my lover validated my life, and the power of sisterhood to pull us through the trying times.  I revealed it all, and I lived.


Lesson #5: The truth shall set you free (even if it’s uncomfortable)

I wanted to make up a story about why I couldn’t come to Boulder, but instead I told the truth.  I wanted to share a story on stage that was less – ahem – revealing, but instead I told the truth.  And you know what?  I discovered a whole new level of joy in public speaking, and an overall willingness to be more honest in service to all.  It’s true what they say: The truth shall set you free.

May 21st: A cosmic wink

She knew

She knew

On April 21st, 2014, I sent my dear friend Annie a text: “I have the distinct sense that sometime in the next month, something will happen that will change my life forever.  I don’t know what it will be, or why I have this knowing.  I just do.” In the following two weeks, I jumped with excitement each time anything out of the ordinary happened.   Was it that person I just met?  Was it that conversation with my mother?  But deep down, I knew it hadn’t happened.  I soon let it go and forgot about it.

Then, on May 21st, I had a daydream-beyond-daydreams – a vision that startled and inspired me.  After many deep breaths and a call to my friend Paula, I realized: it had been a month.

Lesson #6: Surrender
I had no explanation for what this vision was all about, and it was a reach to make any sense of it, but I trusted that I didn’t need to know – that in time, everything would be revealed.  And it was.  And I’m grateful.  Learning {still} to surrender…

May 31st: Paris for my birthday

35!

35!

A month before my 35th birthday, my friend Kavita asked how I wanted to celebrate.  Paris would be amazing, I thought, but I brushed the crazy idea to the side and said “I don’t know.  Any ideas?”  “Paris!”, she said. And so it was Paris.  And just a few weeks later, we hugged in the airport and dashed off to meet our friend Kristen for a week of all the best that Paris has to offer.

Celebrating my birthday by eating croissants and drinking champagne in one of my favorite cities in the world was a true gift, and so was the lesson…

 

Lesson #7: Ask for what you really want
Because you just may get it.

September: Fierce Fabulous Free

Made with love

Made with love

Finally, after a two year hiatus from online courses, I decided to build the one I always wanted to – Fierce Fabulous Free – complete with a beautifully designed journal and gorgeous custom gifts mailed to all the participants.

I loved everything about my creation: the lovingly created free videos, the whole-hearted course content, the website design, the customer experience…did I mention the gifts?  Loved every bit. So during the launch, I found myself excitedly refreshing the purchase page to see how many new women had signed up.  A few days in, I realized that I was waiting for that number to reach our target…

Lesson #8: Numbers are people
As soon as I noticed that I was simply waiting for the Big Number, I started to redirect my attention to the individuals.  As each new woman signed up, I sang a welcome song aloud, adding her name.  Because numbers aside, each and every person matters a lot.  And yes, in the end I was thrilled with the number – and much more importantly, the individual women – who joined us.

October 5th: Playing ‘Healer Smurf’

Her gift

Her gift

When a dear friend invited me on a two day women’s retreat in the woods, I was a reluctant yes.  I generally jump at any chance to experience deep sisterhood, but was a little travel weary.  Nonetheless, my heart said “go”, so I went.

Halfway through the day, he came up to me, pointed towards one of the women, and said “Want to play Healer Smurf?  She could use some Nisha love.”  I closed my eyes and searched for guidance as to what would serve her.  I grabbed my pouch of flower oils and headed over.  Within minutes, we were laughing and connecting and it felt like progress.

Lesson #9: We all have our medicine
For some of us, it’s song.  For others, it’s poetry or food or touch.  For me, it’s flowers.  Recognizing and honoring my deep connection with flowers – my desire to learn about them , my love for arranging and eating them, and my interest in learning their language – has led me to more fully appreciate my own gifts and be more tuned-into others’.  We all have our medicine.  What’s yours?

October 23rd-26th: LIVE FREE

Sisterhood

Sisterhood

In 2013, my dear friend Sarah Jenks and I led our first retreat together – LIVE FREE, in Sonoma, California.  It was gorgeous, and we decided to do it again in 2014.  We had nearly 100 women join us for 4 days in wine country, and Sarah and I decided to dive deep and lead the experiences we most wanted to.  We bought flower crowns for every woman and took them wine tasting, we had a late-night dance party, we taught stuff neither of us ever had before, and I opened the retreat with a very beautiful and very intimate bonding experience for the women.

Beginning a retreat with an experience that drops everyone into the deep end of the pool, rather than an “ice breaker”, felt edgy.  I wondered if they’d feel it was too much, too revealing, too woo-woo, but I trusted and went with it.  What unfolded was beyond what I envisioned, and I was so proud of us all.

Lesson #10: The world is ready to embrace sisterhood
We may have been burned by women before.  We may be afraid of sisterhood.  It may feel unknown, uncomfortable, even unimportant.  But I feel a growing yearning in the world for women to experience true sisterhood – loving, deep, nourishing, healing, supportive.  And I know that it’s time to heal the wounds of separation – comparison, jealousy, judgement – among women.  In the last two years, I have been feeling a deeper calling to bring the message of sisterhood to the world.  You’ll see much more around this as 2015 unfolds…

December: Team overhaul

Dream Team 1.0

Dream Team 1.0

I received a phone call that no business owner wants to receive: My right-hand woman was moving on.  I was simultaneously sad to lose her, and so happy for the opportunity she was moving towards.  It was the right thing for her.  After a 5 minute cry with a great girlfriend, Jadah, I began the process of uncovering what kind of support I’d need going forward.

With an enormous sense of trust – knowing that everything would end up amazing – I decided to take things to the next level.  Within 2 weeks, I hired 5 people: a COO, a Chief Administrative Officer, an Executive Assistant, a tech guy, and a housekeeper; I also promoted my assistant to head up community engagement.  Whew.  In a few weeks, they’re flying to San Francisco for our first team retreat, and I’m thrilled.

Lesson #11: Going pro is a big responsibility…and a big privilege
Since the team has started coming together, I’ve experienced the incredible feeling of support that comes with having a full team.  I’ve also experienced the incredible feeling of responsibility – more people to create work for, bigger payroll, more accountability, more people to support in return.  With every level of business growth comes great privilege and great responsibility, and the enormity of it can cause us to shrink back and avoid the leap, or to step up and take it on.  I’ve learned to expect the “whoa” feeling that accompanies facing The Next Big Thing, to welcome the fear as a sign of great growth, and to channel the excitement with focus.  When you’re connected to a calling, expect “whoa”.

December 13th: Watching Marshall overnight

My babyfriend

My babyfriend

In 2014, many of my girlfriends had babies.  For some of them, I organized a few months freshly cooked meals from friends; for another, a few months of visits from friends.  I spent lots of time hugging new babies while mommy slept, wiping mama’s tears,  tidying house and talking to my girlfriend while she nursed, organizing group gifts, and hosting Baby Blessings and Birth Stories.  It was a year for me to really deepen in my sisterhood towards the mamas in my life.

When I offered to have a sleepover with Sarah and Jonathan’s baby, Marshall, we were all excited.  But when the day arrived, Sarah called to say that she was concerned that Marshall might be getting sick.  He hadn’t slept well the night before, and she didn’t think she should leave him with us overnight.  “Are you worried about him or us?”, I asked.  “You. He’ll be fine, but if he doesn’t sleep well, or gets sick, I don’t want you to have to deal with that.”  “Sar, you guys need this night.  Let me help you.  If he does get sick, you’ll need some energy reserves to take care of him.  If you’re open to it, go and have a great night with Jonathan.  I’ll take care of Marshall and if we need you, we’ll call.”  We had him, and it was so sweet.  And yes, we all got sick 🙂

Lesson #12: We need one another.
We are not, and never have been, truly independent.  The food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the houses we live in – all were contributed to by others.  We are interdependent; we need one another.  For us to live sustainably – financially, environmentally, emotionally, energetically – we need to move past our own comfort and convenience to be there for others and to receive their support, as all of humankind has, for all of history.

LESSON OF THE YEAR

What we often think of as emotional strength is actually emotional fragility.  A “stiff upper lip” often belies an inability to “go there” and a fear of emotions taking over.   I want to be more like bamboo: flexible and quick to grow.  Persistent.  Tony Robbins says, “Emotional intelligence is a wonderful thing, but I much prefer emotional fitness.  Intelligence is a capability; fitness is a state of readiness.”  To me, emotional fitness is true inner strength, and devotion requires strength.

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi {tweet it}

DO THIS NOW:

Take 45 minutes and curl up with some tea or wine. Go through your calendar and write down your most memorable moments of last year and what empowering lessons you can take with you into the new year.

—> In the comments below, I’d love for you to share some of your best lessons from your brightest and darkest moments of last year. 

14 Comments

  1. LOVE this exercise, Nisha, and reading about your year – thanks for sharing and inspiring. I look forward to taking a walk through 2014… it was a heck of a year for me. In fact, I might slowly look through all 46 years… life has been amazing 🙂

    • It is such a rich and beautiful journey, and can’t wait to hear about how this loving exercise unfolds for you. Celebrating life and your glorious 46 years. Much love to you, sister xo

  2. Sounds like a really amazing year for you and your sisters! I especially thought your group of women experiencing discord was very important, because you had all created a safe place to actually be out of alignment and come back together.

    Also thought that baby situation was adorable. When can getting sick actually be cute? When an adorable baby gets you sick in the name of helping a friend! Sweet.

    May your 2015 bring you everything you could wish and more.

    XO Alison

    • A truly magical year it was Alison, and I love what you said about us moving through our discord as sisters, it brought us back even closer and it solidified how the power of Sacred Sisterhood can be such sweet medicine. And yes, baby Marshall did bring cuteness into the concept of getting sick 🙂 Wishing you a super beautiful 2015 and look forward to our continuous connection xo

  3. Thank you for sharing your amazing year I’m going to take you up on going through my years experiences. I love it! I really love the work you are doing Nisha. Xxoo

    • Please do Tracy, and I would love for you to share with us how it felt for you to go through this experience. It is such a joy for me to do the work I do, and sharing it with you sister!! I so appreciate you xo

  4. Nisha. Thanks so much for sharing this, sister. Of all the “years in review”, yours feels most aligned with my own intentions. Thank you for shedding more light and love on the power of sisterhood- yes, the world is ready… let’s go there. Your comments on self love as selfish and narcissistic really hit home for me- there are so many layers to work through here for me- thank you for sharing.

    • The world is so beyond ready to receive Jo in her fullness and joyful, all accepting love. This is your year Sister, please gift us the honor of experiencing all of YOU xo

  5. Nisha, Your simply amazing! It feels like i know your heart. our souls did spirit dance it feels that way.
    Wishing you excitement, relaxation, deep trust and much LOVE for a new year ahead. bear hug mel*

    • Our souls totally did dance Mel 🙂 Wishing you all the magic that this world could share to be with you. So much love xo

    • Thank you for reading and for being a part of Nisha’s loving community, Leah! We are so happy to have you here.

  6. Thanks for sharing the beautiful journey you had last year, Nisha. I was moved and inspired. One of my brightest moment last year was giving birth to our son. To be honest, I consider myself a loving person. But the way my heart has grown since giving birth has been astounding to me; not just in how profoundly I love our son, but how profoundly I love in general.

    My darkest moment was going back to my full time job after giving birth. It was hard not having the flexibility to spend time with my family with the crazy schedule I had. But this dark moment also inspired another bright moment; my freelancing business. I have been more motivated and inspired since then to be successful so that I could live the life I want. Your vision fits so beautifully with mine. I want to give of myself to others (women who want to be clarified) but also to give to myself (having time for the people and things I love). One of the things I hope to give to myself one day is participating in your retreats. They sound enlightening!

    • Laureen, your son is very lucky to have mom as dedicated as you, and we trust that this year will gift you the space and support in delivering your vision to the world 🙂 What a beautiful share!!! Thank you!! And please know that we would love to have you join in the future and be a part of Nisha’s programs. Whenever you heart desires to make the leap, we will welcome you with open arms. Wishing you a magical 2015! Jolenny

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *