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On the strike of the New Year, I chose a “word of the year” to take the place of those boring resolutions. Something to hold me accountable, yet help me to visualize my desires.

That word for me was FREEDOM. 

Little did I know, this was to be a spectacular theme in the months ahead.

Freedom to me, means being able to express who I am at the core.  Living out loud and staying in my own lane. Freedom allows me the choices and opportunities to be who MY soul wants to be… Not as part of the matrix.

Free will is a God-given right. But as we grow and place limitations on ourselves, we begin to build walls. Growing up in my household, I was lucky enough to have a family who gave me the freedom to share my opinion, learn, believe, grow, and independence to be myself. They encouraged mistakes and welcomed my imperfections. I had a freedom that some people do not have, and I didn’t realize this until much later in life.

Over the last twenty years, I gave much of my freedom away. I married into a family who didn’t believe in individuality.  Even though I had a happy marriage, I was suddenly surrounded by people who thought I shouldn’t have a voice. They did not want to see me, or for me to be seen. Perhaps I triggered their inadequacies which made them want to control me. It made me shrink in confidence and stunted my growth. It stifled my personality, expression and I began to question my beliefs. It placed me in a state of competitiveness (which was not like me) and I essentially lost myself.  As the years went on, and I lost my own family, I began to ache inside.  An aching for authenticity and substance in my relationships. Over time these wounds caused me to gain weight. By the time I reached my 40’s, I had enough padding to “protect” me.

So this word freedom continued to surface for me this year, and it began to bring out many desires that I had been holding back. My friend Elena Lipson referred me to Suzanne Hanna’s Wilderness Walk in my quest for better self-care, and suggested this would be the catalyst to ignite my dream of becoming a full time Entrepreneur. I joined a FREE 30 day challenge for extreme self-care, which helped me to look deep within and see my daily routines in a new and loving way. I began putting myself first, speaking my truth, and voicing my desires – all the things I had stuffed inside for years.

This made some people uneasy, because with my change, it forced a change in them. It did not support their agenda anymore. I was met with resistance, but I held on to my integrity. It allowed me to eliminate the situations, things, people and feelings that no longer served me, and it allowed me to focus on nurturing MY soul and on the people who truly loved me.

When I stepped onto The Wilderness Walk trail, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to find. This was new territory for me, and I wasn’t used to sharing my deepest darkest secrets with strangers. Stifling my voice for all of those years made me timid to trust other women. But I knew this was being presented in my life for a reason.

When I began to trust and unfold, I allowed myself to go as deep as I needed to. I surrendered. The process uncaged many pieces of me which had been hidden for years.  I confronted my inner-shadow, my story-teller, and also rediscovered my inner-child – the one who knew true FREEDOM. The one who stood in her truth, the feisty, brave, fun-loving, imaginative, benevolent soul that still lived within me.

The journey through my WILDERNESS was intense. Sometimes is felt dark. Sometimes I felt afraid. But I NEVER felt alone.

 I clung to my quest for Freedom, and used it as my attribute on the trail.  During the walk, I was surrounded by a tribe that loved me for who I was. They encouraged me to be seen and heard. I felt fully supported not only by my loving husband, but by a group of strangers who quickly became my sisters.

I came out the other side and into the light embodying a FREEDOM that I had not felt in years.

I met my new sisters face to face at a beautiful retreat center in Costa Rica. Even though I thought I had challenged all the depth inside of me, there was more to uncover.  As we hiked through the WILDERNESS, I found myself literally climbing an endless stairway.  I was still carrying the weight of everything I had been through in my life. I was exhausted.  The hours of trekking through the jungle was a metaphor for where I was in my life – only it was REAL.

I felt my limitations. All of them. But I kept going.

My tribe of sisters encouraged and supported me through the process. And in the end, the weight melted away. I proved to myself that I could do it. The jungle renewed my life. It was the proverbial shift I needed to believe that I am enough. Now when I look back on all of the loss and struggles in in my life, I visualize that trail in the jungle and leave it behind me.

Once back from Costa Rica, I made the decision to not only leave behind those situations and people that did not support me, I also took the leap into my business full time.

I will never forget standing at the top of a volcano, peering down into the Costa Rican Cloud Forest, and Suzanne asking me if I was truly ready to leap.

I now create in my ‘zone of genius’ every day, within the comfort of my own home,  peace in my heart, knowing that by changing my thoughts, I give myself a Freedom that I never thought was possible. I have my Wilderness Walk Tribe to thank for this new lease on life, and a backpack of tools to keep me moving forward.

What weight are you willing to release in order to step into your own FREEDOM?

Renee Weatherford

Walker – Costa Rica