The Shoes that Sparked My Confidence: Stepping into Myself & Success

women in business, women entrepreneurship, honesty

The walk towards freedom from myself started with a pair of shoes.

No,  it started when I was asked to be one of the leaders of Spark Retreat this May.

No, it was the day I realized I was scared of my own power and was holding myself back from the life I want…

Whatever catalyzed my decision to make peace with my self-doubt, the shoes were a symbol of stepping into my power, and getting comfortable with my own face again.

The back story…

Since we are talking about ethics and big, meaningful words like authenticity and integrity, I need to be honest about one of my own deepest struggles. I am just as shy, self-conscious and afraid as any one! Seeing my face on the internet freaks me right out. I have difficulty caring for myself or seeing my own value with the same compassion I lavish on others. I take on too much and then feel overwhelmed by my inability to be super woman. I have big ideas so push myself constantly towards an indefinable goal, without taking the time to see how far I have come, or where I am right now.

I project a strength and confidence that leads people to think I am tougher then I really am. An illusion helped by my big hair, big smile and big laugh-even when my heart is pounding like a crazed bird in my chest. My love of community forces me out of my fear because that love of connection is stronger then my shyness. This projected confidence has also gotten me in a lot of trouble. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to laugh quieter, speak with less conviction, and keep my thoughts to myself. Supervisors told me I was intimidating. Boyfriends told me I was too strong. After I had kids I felt out of place with the more timid parents and stuck out like a sore thumb at playgroups.

So I started to play smaller and shrink myself into something more manageable. It wasn’t even a conscious decision! I love bright clothes, fun hair, big earrings and funky shoes but I bought neutrals so I didn’t stand out so much. I stopped being me in all my muchness. As I shrunk into this smaller, tamer me, I put my energy and passion into OMHG and our community. I started out by playing small and trying not to put off any of our original readers.  Over time I realized the more I showed my ‘true’ self, that loud, bright, curious, sensitive girl I am inside, the stronger our community became and the more I called my biggest supporters to me. The more people saw me even without having my face all over the site.

jessika hepburn

While I don’t ever want OMHG to be all about me or become a ‘personal brand’ what I want is for all of us to feel empowered and safe to be ourselves here. I want us to see our own beauty and value, our diversity, and uniqueness. I want that for myself too. If I want that to happen I need to stop being so afraid of seeing the success I have created here. I need to give myself the same love I have endless amounts of for others. I needed a headshot that wasn’t taken by my small child and a real about page.

I find it much easier to give the credit away then to own any of it. Owning it means I accept responsibility for shining my brightest when it is less scary to sit back and encourage YOU to shine. Why is it so much harder to see our own radiance then it is to see the beauty of others?

Back to the shoes. 

Balancing homeschooling, our home renovation, and all the great success I have been having via OMHG plus other projects has left me pretty wiped out. So I snuck out of the house to get my hair done before my interview with April of Blacksburg Belle. It had been months, I needed a hair cut!

Fluevogs have always topped my covet list- a symbol of success and abundance. Walking into the shoe store, and trying on these shoes in the 1/2 an hour before my hair cut, was an act of random synchronicity and impulse. After our Spark Retreat call with Alexandra Franzen and Dyana Valentine I was so open to magic of any kind. The shoes fit like a dream, and made me ridiculously happy for a material object, but I gasped at the price thinking there was no way I could afford them. I have been saving all of the money I make through OMHG for a site redesign to add more engagement for our community. How could I justify such a huge expense?

Then the sales person told me the story behind the name of the shoe…and you all know I have a soft spot for stories and women in business. These shoes just happened to be named after the incredible:

viola davis desmond, women entrepreneurs, african canadian entreprenuerViola Desmond was a true heroine and brave soul. An African Canadian from Halifax, she led the way towards equality for Canadian women of colour with beauty, grace, class, and white gloves. She was also a trail blazing entrepreneur and business woman, at a time when most women (regardless of colour) were considered inferior. In addition to being Canada’s ‘Rosa Parks’, Viola created the Desmond Studio of Beauty Culture and the Desmond School of Beauty Culture and was the force behind a Nova Scotian Black beauty industry that is still vibrant today. If there is any woman whose shoes I would be honoured to walk in, it is hers! Learn more about Viola’s story here and here.

I bought them, eek! Then I went and got my hair done. Blue and purple hair? Yes! I thought about Viola Desmond and the purple shoes and freedom. That night I wore my new shoes while April interviewed me. Even though Sela made me run away from the interview to take her to the potty (twice) and Ila snuck out of bed and interrupted us, I felt strong and awesome. The next day I got all dressed up and had my mama take some quick pictures before Chris and I had a date so I could take my new shoes for a spin. When I got home I asked Twitter & Facebook friends to help me choose a new headshot-I never expected over 80 people would reply, and so beautifully!!!! I am honoured by how much love I receive here. It makes my fears seem pretty silly and all in my own head. Just like I talked about with April in our interview…synchronicity?

women entrepreneurship

If the shoes make the woman then I am ready to step into my power, honestly, and with integrity. Not by making it about me but by seeing myself as worthy of all the lovely emails + a pair of nice shoes, and pretty pictures. And by accepting that I can be successful, ethical and community focused at the same time. These shoes were made for walking straight into a future that is radiant and full of wonder- I am so grateful you are all coming with me! Cheers to us all sharing our loveliness with the world and stomping on the limitations we put on ourselves.

Now I feel like I can talk about ethics more authentically-here I am friends! My face (no Photoshop!)! My feet! My struggles! My hopes. My very own about page. And if you want to see me up close and personal go check out my live interview with April of Blacksburg Belle right here, or better yet, come hang out with me (& my pretty shoes) in New Mexico at Spark Retreat!

If you made it through this huge post that was all about me, thank you, now it is your turn! Have you ever felt like this? Afraid of owning your own awesome? Not seeing or valuing your success? Caring for others but not yourself? Hiding your true self away because of shyness or self-doubt? Please feel safe to share your story in the comments, I’m right here with you!