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Learning what love is not.

Full transparency — I love, love. I am a big fan of everything about it.

The gushy Hallmark movies, the candies, the romance, all… the… things. I've been like that ever since I can remember, maybe it was all those Disney movies and my love for fantasy novels. Basically, I wanted to grow up as a Disney princess and find my prince charming just like in the movies. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that love isn't any of those things. It's not even close.

After my divorce 5 years ago, my idea of love was completely shattered. I had the husband, I had the house, I even had a job I really enjoyed at the time. But there was a huge gap in that master plan. Something was really wrong and I wanted to completely ignore it. Never wanting to fail, mess up, or disappoint the people in my life, I would stay in relationships that only allowed me to live half a life even if I was unhappy. I followed the rules and never disobeyed them. This including my thoughts and feelings around sex, I rejected them because I thought they were “bad”, “not acceptable" or downright “inappropriate”. This behaviour was spread thick over all parts of my life. I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted to be happy like my parents - the way I "should" be living. In the end, not only did I lose my marriage but I also completely lost myself in the process. More importantly, realizing, I never actually knew who the hell I was … in the first place.

I became a coach because I experienced first hand what it was like to exit a relationship and be subjected to identity theft. I willingly handed over my identity to my relationships and anyone else who would take it on a golden platter. People's opinions, ideas, and judgments directed my every move until ...I woke the f*ck up. I started to explore all of the things that bring me joy, pleasure, and peace - including an intimate relationship with myself. As women, we live by a lot of "shoulds" created by family, friends, and worst of all society. It's just how life's unfolded. We have this need to be perfect - the perfect housewife, the perfect partner, the perfect employee, the perfect mom, the perfect everything. Instead, I encourage you to break the rules and live by your own perfect. Do what makes you unique, do what makes you authentic, do what makes you HUMAN.

Through my journey, I've learned that love is not big red hearts stuffed with chocolate, a dozen Doritos roses, or even a romantic dinner at a super expensive restaurant that you sure as hell can't afford. I Iearned what love really means when I started deeply loving myself. No partner could ever give me the love I wanted to find, because I had to be able to find it myself first, in order to share this love with someone else. For me, love is having the courage to take risks for myself and my business, it's giving permission to be unproductive when I should be working on a bunch of deadlines, it's letting out my emotions and having compassion for them - no matter what I'm experiencing. It's choosing to stay in on a Friday night and cultivating the relationship with myself rather than trying to find a partner to satisfy me or fill a lonely void. It's opting to take a break from the dating apps because I need space to breathe and find things that make my heart soar.

When I learned the meaning of love for myself, I started to embrace all forms of love, I adopted a cat named Gherkin (little pickle). I spent more time with my family and bonded with my niece, who calls me "Airy", a name I actually like better than the one I have haha. I joined social groups online and interacted with people all over the world. I went full throttle by intensely giving myself to my passions - namely, my business and infused my energy, heart, and soul into its growth. I found love in every other part of my life instead of finding it (or forcing it) in a romantic relationship. Everyone's idea of love is different. But to me, love is showing up 100% in love with your life and not accepting anything that doesn't serve you.

Love is a state of mind that you've got to invest in EVERY DAMN DAY. It's not going to be perfect, pretty, or easy. It's going to be really messy and extremely hard. I know because I still struggle with it. But I'm proof that once you start opening up to this kind of love, life becomes one big beautiful adventure and starts to fall into place.

My advice? Instead of dreaming of a Disney princess love story, start imaging an adventure Lara Croft style and forge your own damn heroine path.

How are you going to honour your heroine status not only on Valentine's day but every day? I hope you give yourself some good ol' tender love and care, always.

Lots of love,

Erin xo.

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