“Self definition is awareness. Self definition is agency. Self definition is love.” ~Janine Rudder
This blog is a significant part of my stepping into the awareness that every second of every day is my life. I can wander through it half asleep guided by my already established habits and the paths my peers have taken. Or, I can start to pay attention to my life; take note of what ignites me, and what I value above all else, and design a life around those things.
Why Define Yourself, Free Yourself?
I just gave myself true, uninhibited permission to be me about eight years ago. For the thirty years prior I was pretty much blindly following the pack. I thought I was conscious because I followed my voracious drive to work with others, which lead me to teach in the public school system and volunteer abroad. Those things mattered to me and enriched my life significantly. However, I still allowed the outside world’s “benchmarks of success” to dictate pivotal moments of my life, even if my heart was not authentically drawn to them – graduate school in the ivy league, prestigious job with a large urban school district – to name a couple. I don’t necessarily regret these choices, they just were a result of what I thought I should be doing and what would “raise my stock” so to speak. I now operate from a place of being worthy of anything regardless of how closely my life aligns with those success benchmarks. This shift in my belief system has released me from the heavy burden of outside expectations. I find myself lighter and freer to define my path as well as my destination.
Exceptional Living Done My Way
Defining what an exceptional life looks like for me based on what I care about and value most frees me to spend my most treasured resource – time and another important asset – money without guilt and oftentimes, hesitation. I have clarity around my values, priorities, and my vision, which emboldens me to move through life with a confidence supported by integrity and faith.
I am now at the point in my life where I feel confident enough to declare this to the world and start to live a life to back it up. However, just a few short years ago I was on what I call the “golden path”, seeking my self-worth through titles and a specific salary, all while ignoring my intuition’s not so subtle warnings that this would leave me unfulfilled and regretful. Intentional time spent exploring what I am naturally drawn to and listening to my inner knowing helped me to create a vision for my future and a path to get there. As for now, I’m slowly digging my way out of the “hustle trap” while working on creative endeavors that feed my soul and make life enjoyable.
My life has been full of hints of a non-conformist streak – shortly after I graduated university in Boston where I was born and raised, I moved to California, having never even visited. After three years teaching middle school, I headed to New York City for graduate school and then to Belize directly after that as a volunteer. Upon my return to the United States, I had secured a coveted position with DC Public Schools. While my colleagues were positioning themselves to climb the ladder, I poured myself into my Pilates practice and trained to become an instructor. After a year and a half of immense stress, I quit my school district job, took a $23,000 pay cut and committed myself to getting back to what truly matters in life. The most salient lesson that experience taught me was that it all worked out; I was fine. I adapted quite well to the shift in my finances and was still able to pay off all of my student loans and purchase my first home within four years of taking that leap!
Now, I’m navigating life as a newlywed, and new step mom to a teenager! My husband, Andy, and I both wholeheartedly subscribe to the belief that we can, and will, create a meaningful, fun, abundant life grounded in our individual and collective purpose. We cosign each other’s aspirations, both by helping to create the dream and execute the vision. Ultimately, we aim to live a life where we have control over our time, which we believe to be our most precious resource, and do work that elevates people’s life experience. Andy is currently a high school English teacher by day and building a thriving personal development coaching business by night. I am a federal worker 40 hours per week and a writer, Pilates instructor and personal development coach all of the other hours of the week.
Enough about me, let’s talk about YOU! Hopefully you are ready to step out, on faith and confidence, toward what lights you up and pulls you out of bed in the morning. Maybe that’s spending time with your kids, your art, music, nature, the ocean, making ice cream; whatever you know you were born to do. This platform is about building a community of enthusiastic, optimistic, believers who know that the realities of their life can reflect the desires of their heart, and are ready to start their journey and support others in theirs.
Sharing the inspirations, lessons, wisdom, tips, habits, and processes I’ve picked up from other brilliant people, amazing experiences, outstanding books and other works of art I’ve been blessed to encounter is a part of my purpose. I hope it brings a little more life and love to the world.
Janine Rudder is a coach and Co-Owner at Manifestara LLC - https://manifestara.com/