I’m so thrilled to introduce one of the most vibrant, honest, hilarious, and generous best friends I have, Claire Byrne. I’ve known Claire for five years and in that time, she has been one of my most loving and supportive girlfriends. I thought she would be a perfect person to interview for this month’s “Creative Forces” theme since her job as a Life Coach is to help women break through blocks to CREATE authentically peaceful, abundant, and happy lives! Claire shares her insights about creativity and tips on how we as women can move toward our dreams and bring more creative delight into our daily lives.
What is creativity to you?
I think creativity comes in so many different forms and being creative isn’t limited to someone who is considered “artistic.” I think we are all creative beings and underestimate our creative abilities every day—especially the non-artsy-fartsy types.
For me, I find that outside of life coaching, acting, and teaching/practicing yoga, I am still constantly creating. For example, I love creating what I’m going to wear —even if it’s a workout outfit in a class full of women! It isn’t about impressing others –it’s about how I feel in the colors I’m drawn to, the nerdy, punny quote tanks that makes a random stranger at Whole Foods smile, floral dresses that tap into my femininity and romantic side, and jeans that feel like the tag should say, “made for Claire’s butt,” making me wanna shake what my mama gave me. I love creative expression through not only what I wear, but how others use it in ways that don’t necessarily reflect my style. Living my adult life in LA and NYC makes this extra fun.
On a deeper level, I think connecting with loved ones every day is also a form of creativity. I’ve been enriched with so many inspiring women leading incredible lives who I get to call dear friends. Deep conversations, getting to the nitty gritty and cutting the BS of “I’m good. How are you?”, sharing fears that cripple us, the pain that cuts us, the hilarity of horrific first dates and why the hell we thought the second one was a good idea….I feel creatively stimulated every time I connect with a close friend on a deep level, which I make a priority to do every day. A chat with a loved one or even a stranger can create joy, anger, laughter, or inspired kindness that creates a domino effect we may never even know about.
I don’t think we realize the beauty and richness we create all day every day, enough.
What inspired you to become a life coach?
The disappointments in my acting career and a string of unhealthy relationships between my mid-twenties to early thirties, prompted me to jump on the soul-searching bandwagon. Intellectually, I knew I was smart, talented, had an open heart with a lot to offer, but on a soul level, I didn’t feel like I was enough, so of course that’s what my outer life reflected.
I embarked on a journey of deep yoga and meditation practices, leaned on incredibly supportive friends and family, a library of self-help books, reiki, acupuncture, natural supplements, therapy, journaling etc., and found them to be incredibly transformative to a certain degree. I was able to understand where the limiting beliefs stemmed from, and got pretty savvy with “being” with the pain and disappointment, but not much pain was actually shifting. I still found it near impossible to truly let go of the way I wanted things so badly to be.
Martha Beck’s life coaching program was the icing on the cake for me. I now see the world in a very different way—a more peaceful way. I feel an excitement for the unknown but also get out of bed feeling giddy about my day. I’m consciously creating a bigger future while truly loving today. AHHH! I pinch myself as I type this truth because I didn’t think it would be possible for so long.
While I was teaching yoga, people suggested I consider becoming a coach. It was something that always interested me, but I never felt I was in a healthy enough space to offer tools to others who were suffering. I am beyond grateful to not only be where I am today, but that I get to say to women every day, “I’ve been there. Yes, it absolutely sucks, but if you do this work, I promise you it will get better.” Every. Day.
How can women move toward their dream lives?
Forgive the generalization because I don’t think this is true for all women, but in my experience, I have found that many women tend to put way too much before themselves and what they want, because of their lover, their kids, or the social pressures to do something they don’t really want to do. I recognize that I’m not a mom so I can’t imagine what it feels like to have a little being depend on me for EVERYTHING 24/7, but I still think it’s crucial for women to create “ME” time. Within this time, do the thing you want to do most! If you don’t even know what that would be, that’s not an excuse to carve out the time. Create the time to figure out what feeds YOUR true self. What did you LOVE to do as a kid? What were you drawn to? Animals? Dance? Karate? Chess? I love an activity that Martha offers in her book, Finding Your Own North Star—go to a bookstore and see what sections you are pulled towards. Sit down with five books and notice what catches your attention. How does your body feel? What does it inspire you to do? For my fellow-Type A’s out there, don’t read into anything more than that (pun intended). Just start to notice what interests or excites you.
And again, for the exhausted, run-down, “I-don’t-have-the-time,” “I-feel-too-guilty”, people, I guarantee that you’ll be a much more present and energized, partner, mother, friend and employee, if you carve this special time out for your essential self. You’re enriching not only your relationship with yourself, but your relationship with them as well.
What’s the most common block you see?
Hands down, it’s the fear of what others think of them. I’m not surprised this is the running trend with my clients because it’s the thing that plagued me the most for so many years—it still does from time to time but I now have the ability to check it. “What will people think if I go for my dream and leave my safe job?” “If I leave Mr. Boring-but-super-good-guy, what will they say?” “What if they hate me at my new job?”
My response is usually something like, “So. What if??”
“They’ll think I’m crazy.” “They’ll think I’m a bitch.” “That would hurt me so so much.”
And that’s the crux of it, right? We don’t want to feel pain, which –NEWSFLASH –is a very unavoidable human emotion, but we do all we can to resist it. Instead of the potential high reward on the other side of taking the big leap, we stay with Mr. Boring or the miserable job, and live wondering, “What if it was possible to do the thing I really wanna do?” The longing and dissatisfaction of never knowing and keeping people happy, is safer than legitimately trying, not getting what we want, and dealing with negative reactions which PS, you’ll never know would happen because you never tried!
And I get it. Vulnerability is a total bitch. But I think not going for the big things your authentic self deeply desires is way worse than never knowing.
Someone recently shared a quote and I don’t remember who said it, but I love it. “If you’re not pissing someone off, then you’re doing something wrong.” A. MEN!
You can contact Claire directly at email@example.com for life coaching services. (Her website is currently under construction.)
Photo courtesy Claire Byrne, edited by Tara Tona