I sometimes feel I’ve gone through my life like a chocolate dipped ice cream cone. I have a deceptively solid exterior – nice looking, pleasing and totally hiding what’s underneath. I’m taking a class where we’re asked to identify one big change we’d like to make in our life.

I’ve decided I want to lose the chocolate dip. To do that I want to learn to be fully and authentically present to myself and others. The thought is scary. I think most people see me as an open person, but even if they don’t notice the chocolate dip, it’s there, and I’ve perfected the appearance over many years.

I met my husband when I was 20. My mother passed away when I was 21. I had children, a career, and built my life around these identities. I left my corporate career seven years ago and started to build my coaching/leadership practice. I fashioned this new endeavor to save room to care for my husband. My husband passed away a year ago. I now can construct my life based on what I want/need, and I realize that I’ve spent a lot of my life projecting a persona of what I think others expect of me, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to fully experience life and others, and feel if I do perhaps my true purpose will emerge. I really want to be able to answer the question, “How can I best serve?” (serve myself, my family and friends, the world? I want to engage directly with others in a non-judgmental way. I don’t want to hold back, but neither do I want to antagonize

Since starting my own leadership development/executive coaching practice, I have taken extensive training in embodied awareness, mindfulness, intuitive listening, self-awareness and reflection. The thing is I can teach it, but I don’t always do it.

I find I’m not always present in my own life. Often, I am distracted and not paying attention to others around me or to my environment:

  • I operate on automatic.
  • Put up a persona.
  • Spend too much time scrolling on my phone.
  • Do mindless things: forget keys, lose phone, drop stuff, run into stuff, get someplace and don’t remember driving there.
  • Don’t say what I’m thinking or feeling

I can bring myself back into the present and into my body somewhat on command, but I still spiral.

Over the years, I’ve kept that chocolate dip exterior as protection (protection from life and feeling too much.) What I’m realizing is that soft serve ice cream can stand up by itself. It doesn’t need the chocolate dip. It’s both strong and soft. And so am I.