We all want to be it ourselves, and a lot of us want to empower others. It's probably the buzz word of 2020, aside from COVID...

But what does it mean? What does it look like? What happens when you become empowered?

The definition of Empower is to have the authority or power to do something....

I had a conversation with a friend recently who said she figured out what was missing in her life...she was missing feeling empowered. Great! But empowered to do what? To be debt free? To wear the clothes she wants to wear whenever and wherever she wants to? To move to a new country where no one knows her name?

The thing about empowerment is you have to have something you want to accomplish in order to be empowered to do it. So today, the first day of 2021, I want you to think about what you want to be empowered to do. There's no right or wrong answer. Start with one thing, one thing in your life that makes you feel uninspired, terrified of, or ashamed of. Give yourself permission to change it. We're talking baby steps.

Do you want to give yourself the authority to start being the weird, quirky person you are that you're afraid everyone else will make fun of (Hii! I see you...me too!)?

Maybe you want to feel like you're authorized to wear that crop top that you feel sooo good in, but never leave the house in because someone might get offended by your fat.

Do you want to give yourself the authority to leave your bad home situation? Do you want to go back to school? Do you want to run a marathon? Swim across a huge lake? Block people who make fun of you because of their own insecurities? Do a boudoir session? Elope instead of have a wedding?

You have the permission. You have the authority. It's your life. As long as you're not breaking laws, YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO! You are never going to make everyone else happy, so give yourself the authority to be you, do you, and grow into the person you know you are.

Okay, you know what you want to be empowered to do! Now what?

Start living it.

I spent 33 years being a modified version of me - a result of being bullied into believing shitty things about myself. I didn't have friends most my life. Hell I didn't even have my own identity in high school. I was Kandus' little sister. Even after my sister graduated, I was Kandus' little sister. I had a reputation to live up to. A take no bullshit reputation my sister had set (that's a compliment), but a reputation I felt I had to live up to. I was fat. I don't know what I weighed or what size I wore, but I was fat. By that I mean I had excess fat, and I was not in good physical shape. I could barely run a mile for gym class. Being fat wasn't the problem. Fat is just a word used to describe a person or animal with excess fat. It's not a defining word unless you let it be, and I let it be the most defining thing of my life.

I bleached my hair and coloured it different colours with bingo dabbers just to show people I didn't care what they thought (I did). Honestly I'm glad cell phones and selfies weren't a thing then because I would look back at the girl I was and feel sad for her. So much sadness and loneliness in one teenager. I finally got a couple friends. That was cool. Not sure they were the healthiest friendships but some of them were solid. I was told the reason I didn't have a boyfriend was because I was fat and no one wanted to date a fat person...I'm bigger now than then and I am happily married and very much loved so interpret that how you wish.

I did the things I was supposed to do, even though I did them a little out of order. I went to school, got a degree, worked on my health - I went to the gym a TON and became skinnier than I ever remembered being - and later gained it all back- and received my professional designation. Nothing ever felt quite right except for having my family, a couple friendships, eventually my dog, and Fernando. Then life got better.

It took 32 years, a new friendship with a feminist, and a lot of miles run to realize I am capable of so much more that I ever let myself believe. It took another year for me to start doing anything about what makes me unhappy and start allowing myself (read empowering myself/giving myself the authority), to live my life the way I want. Today I am going for an overnight snowshoe with Fernando and Ryley. Two years ago, not a chance. People would think I'm crazy. Now the people in my life help celebrate this aspect of me and I love it. As you grow, your social circle might have to change. Empower yourself (give yourself permission) to let it. Change is not the enemy. Stagnant mediocrity is.

That's it? Just start living it?

Yup. Why does it have to be more complicated than that? Want to do something? Do it. Do it with the awareness that people will get offended, someone will be unhappy, and understand that most people are living in a state of materialistic, messed up perception of what life if supposed to look like.

Graduate, go to post-secondary (?), get married, have babies and immediately lose the baby weight, manage a career and family, drink wine in the evening. Eat all the delicious food but don't you dare gain weight! Go vacation on a resort. Don't worry if you never actually experience the culture, you're travelling and therefore you're living your best life. Have four friends throughout adulthood and keep them forever. Tell everyone how tired you are. That's life...

Screw that.

When you give yourself permission to live your life according to your individual thoughts and desires, you are empowered. Until then, empowerment is just a word that means we're promoting something we don't understand. It won't be easy; it will maybe be the hardest thing you've done, but the rewards are worth it. The rewards are not feeling like your life is passing you by, knowing what you're capable of and growing passed that. You get to open your mind and heart to new people and experiences that can shape you in a way you neve imagined being possible. All because you gave yourself permission to be honest with yourself, to be scared, and to go forward anyway.

Since I started allowing myself to be me, the empowered version of me, I have started enjoying exercise again, stopped eating so many of my emotions and started eating for fuel (and a little for fun), started concerning myself less with what people I don't know think of me. I applied for another post-secondary program and am waiting to hear back. I started being more honest with myself about why I get frustrated with my friends and Fernando, and therefore am happier because I'm realizing my expectations can't be met if I don't convey them to the person I want to meet my expectations. Honestly there are so many more positives in my life than I can list here. Are there bad days? Of course. But I can deal with them now.

I hope you are all having an amazing first day of 2021. Even if it ends up being a partial repeat of 2020, use it to your advantage! Make it count. Give yourself permission to do it your way.