Permission to Fail

This year has one of the deepest, without being hard, years of my life. 2020 grounded me, in all the ways. I am a runner by trauma and by nature. I love wandering, travelling, exploring, experiencing and adventures. And I also love running internally from shit I don’t want to deal with.

2020 stopped all of it.

I became suddenly aware, not being able to leave home, how much of the past was still here. Parts of my life that I was sure I had ended, yet, here they were alive and well in my life.

I believe that everything carries energy and is alive in some way. Alive in the meaning it brings and carries into our lives, the energy it takes or the power it leaks away from us. It started with my awareness of my part time (ahem, read also: back up plan) job and how it wasn’t the right fit and while I was on the do not call list and not actually working there, it was still in my energetic space.

It was a thing on an already too full plate. So I hand hearted and it whispered to let go.

So I did.

Then it opened a flood gate of plates and how much was actually on each one. My old gym was basically fully operational in my basement, complete with client photo’s on the walls, and while I was no longer teaching, the space wasn’t mine and wasn’t reclaimed. It was filled with nostalgia and if I’m honest, perhaps a road back to the past, should I… fail?

And my closet, filled with too much fitness wear I’d never wear again, and even some old old old corporate clothes and now being filled with an updated ward robe, it was like a scene from sex and the city when Carrie was moving in with Big and had to move her closet. Every thing she had ever worn was with her. And I pride myself on not being a “stuff person”. I used to move yearly and it was EASY to get rid of things… especially when you were paying by the pound to move it…

And yet, here I was with I’m sure 10 years of clothes, some that no longer fit when I chose life over a diet, when I let myself have a beer and pizza instead of egg white bites and water. Ok, there was a LOT of clothes that no longer fit and that I reminded myself, even if I ever do get into them, I’ll never actually wear them again. Also, what if I never lose the 15lbs because I don’t give a fuck and my weight and my worth aren’t connected? What if…

So I let go of 8 garbage bags of clothes.

And then I repainted my house and learned to do that. I decluttered and officially closed my old business. I boxed up filed, shredded 13 years of paperwork (I had my original client files cause I was so proud of myself for opening a business and I was so grateful for the memories). But that was ENERGETIC SPACE and in the way… whispering to come back any time the going got tough.

I purged most of my spiritual “tools” realizing spirituality had very little do with stuff and more to do with inner peace.

I learned to mow the lawn (at 40!). I learned how to create a good base in a fire (at 40!). I learned how to do the hard things like blow up a tire. Chop wood and carry water. I deleted over 17,000 computer files and 8800 emails. And I closed 3 email accounts, 2 bank accounts. Old debt.

I mean, I LET IT ALL THE FUCK GO.

And I can’t say it was a thought process of letting go. I was ready, clear roads to the future and the end of the past. I was sure I had “let go” of the old jobs, the old business, the old me … but around every corner I found parts of her still, lingering in the hallways of my mind and heart, parts that were so afraid to fail that I kept roads open to places I had no business returning.

Whether it was clothes or people or a job. It was over and while I had ended my “going there” physically, emotionally and energetically it was taking up space. As I let go of each of it, I began to realize how much each of those area’s of my life had required me to give up parts of myself, the best of myself.

In the fitness community I had sold out. I had a dream in my heart to help people in a certain way but I lost myself to what the world expected me to look like. 6 pack abs, ripped, perfection and I fell under that spell, compromising my own values to fit a certain “look”.

Hanging onto the gym as it was, prevented it from being my space and would always be the space where I served others at a cost of myself. But closing it too, felt like failing.

Keeping my old wardrobe might have seemed innocent enough. I might very well fit into that clothes again. But it’s the past and it’s about letting go of what was and moving into what is and what will be. Hanging onto the clothes was just hanging onto the past and an expectation of becoming what I once was, as if that version of me was better than the current one, as if that was failing by giving it up, admitting I wouldn’t get back there. But it’s my experience when we stop pushing so hard is when it naturally happens.

To stay, to hold on, to go back, to keep things in our space that do not serve our future but holds us chained to the past, whether intentionally or not, is a conflict in moving to where we want to go. As they say, we can’t fly if we don’t let go of what holds us back.

As I finished the second greatest purge of my life (the first one being my emotional purge years ago) I became aware of how much my fear of failing held me back and tied me to things that I needed to let go of. I had worked out the emotional letting go, even moved on in so many area’s, and yet, the phsycial world showed the real truth. That while I had told myself I had let go, I had not actually let go.

I was keeping roads open in case I needed to return. I didn’t the burn the bridges so I couldn’t go back. I was planning exits and road maps in case I needed them. And one thing I’ve learned on this journey is the only thing that matters is certainty. If you know where you’re going and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to go there, you will get there. It doesn’t mean no challenges but you’ll handle those challenges on the path to where you are going.

Carrying all those things was exhausting. I didn’t even know how much energy, bandwidth and space it was taking until it was gone. Perception is an incredible thing. Because I know I didn’t fail. I moved forward and left things behind that weren’t meant for me anymore. Yet we can so easily convince ourselves that we failed, somehow.

As the end of the purge came and the roads opened to new beginnings, I thought more about failure and what I was really afraid of. So what if I failed? So what if I gained weight but I found life? So what if I moved on from fitness industry but found deeper meaning in the work I do now. So what if I quit a “meaningful” job if it didn’t feel aligned. So what if I didn’t accomplish everything I set out for.

So what if I fall short sometimes? So what if it doesn’t work out the way I wanted or hoped? So what if I let go? So what? I mean what does failure really mean?

It just means I’m out here doing things that I care about. It means I’m taking chances and risks and not accepting less than I want in life.

And who determines what failure is?

Did I fail because I promised myself I would keep a certain weight and clothing size that had nothing to do with real life or the changes that life demands of us? That if keeping that promise meant losing myself? Is that what success is? Or is that failure?

And so what if I changed my mind about something? So what if I love something but I do it for myself (fitness) and I don’t need to share that desire and passion with anyone else? So what if my book doesn’t actually make the New York Times best selling list or if not another copy is ever sold? Who cares. So what if I never lose another pound but I love myself and my life?

So what if I can’t do something, so what if it doesn’t work out the way I had hoped or wanted? I mean what does failure really mean if it means nothing to me? Failure = shame = which means I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t capable. But what if it meant nothing except that I tried? That I didn’t live the typical life, that I tried for something else, that I shot for the moon and landed among the stars?

Can failure really mean anything if it means nothing to me?

What I was really scared of is that if I couldn’t do it, then I wouldn’t be good enough and if I wasn’t good enough I wouldn’t be loved.

And I realized I could be loved for being me, not for what I did or accomplished or had to offer the world. That I am enough because I am alive and that God saw fit to give me life and desire and passion and that I have taken my story and inspired and helped people with it. What does anything else matter. If I am not successful by societies standards, does that mean that I am not successful?

Wouldn’t I and couldn’t I be enough even if I failed? Didn’t I say 10 years ago when I left the corporate world that I had to know, that if I failed I wanted to know what else was possible and not live with regret.

And I have not one regret in this life.

Except that I should have given myself permission to fail sooner, earlier and faster, because I would have let go of the chains that bound me far sooner.

As I step powerfully into a new future, without the baggage and bullshit of the past, I have given myself permission to fail. Because so what? I mean it doesn’t say anything about me except that I decided to live an extraordinary life, that I decided to go after my dreams, every fucking time, no matter the odds stacked against me. That I have decided to say no to what I don’t want and yes to what I do want.

So as I closed the door on the past, I turned my failures into stepping stones to the real me. And I invited failure to continue to teach me about what I will and will not settle for. I gave myself permission to fail more often and easier. To take failure as a sign something greater is waiting or a piece of me is waiting to be reclaimed.

Dear failure, thank you for making me the strongest woman I know.

Tonya

PS… buy the book 😅😂 -> Unchained

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