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“Good boundaries don’t occur naturally. They need to be studied and practiced.” – Nina McIntosh

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about holding space for myself and for what’s important. Once I cut through all the goal setting drama and still more drama and then some additional drama and got down to the business of really deciding what I wanted, I realized that none of it was going to happen unless I chose to hold space for what I had decided was most important.

As much as I was deciding what I was going to do, I was also deciding what I was no longer going to do. As much as I was deciding how I was going to live, I was also deciding how I was not going to live. I was separating what I wanted from what I didn’t want.

What I was really doing was setting boundaries. I’m not always comfortable with boundaries.

Even though I say I really want “X,” I also really want the option of choosing different on a whim. I’ve wanted to be able to, at the drop of a hat, do whatever I please when I please. I’ve wanted complete flexibility and freedom.  Life doesn’t work like that.

  • If I want health, I have to choose to drink water and eat good foods and work out.
  • If I want friends, I have to spend time with awesome people.
  • If I want work I love, I have to figure out what I really like to do, do it, and be willing to accept compensation for my efforts.
  • If I want to learn new skills, I have to invest time and money in programs and books to teach me what I need to know.
  • If I want to write, I have to write. 
  • If I want to save money, I can’t spend it.

It’s sounds pretty easy, but it’s some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. It’s easy to eat crap and lay around and watch bad TV and work a job you don’t love and buy the cute dress. But showing up, being present, being intentional, staying on course is hard, hard work.

As I move through my day I constantly question myself. Is this moving me towards my goals? Do I feel expansive in this situation? Is this helping or hindering my progress? Is this the best choice for me, right now?

What I’m finding is I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with boundaries. I’m starting to realize they protect me and keep me on track.

I’m thinking about putting my boundaries in writing. This scares me, just like writing down my goals, populating my vision boards with images, and making a bucket list scared me. What I realize now is that there is power in committing our thoughts to words and images. So, I think I’ll devote some time in the upcoming months to defining in writing just where my boundaries lie.


  1. I love that you used if/then’s. That’s how I’ve been thinking about my choices and actions as well. I haven’t put my boundaries down in writing, but I do think about how to stay focused on what’s important, and how to make the best choices for me between certain options. The two most useful approaches for me so far have been “if it’s not HELL YES, it’s no”, and “if it results in an expanded sense of presence of Self then I’ll choose it”.

    • A wise person (you) suggested that if/then idea. I’m obviously embracing it.

      I really like the “Hell Yes” model as well. Although being an introvert and needing to process things over a period of time, often requires me to wait for the “Hell Yes.” If it’s not an immediate “Hell Yes” but I’m interested, I wait a day or two and then check back in. By giving myself that extra time, it’ll either become a “Hell Yes” or I’ll know for sure it’s not for me. Thanks for the link.

  2. Great post. Setting boundaries is one thing. Actually enforcing them is another. Great reminder

  3. More and more I am finding that publicly stating my intentions provides me with built-in accountability partners. Writing is HUGELY important to me so I carve out LOTS of time for that in the summer months. I work less, buy less, do less in the summer months just to remind myself that simple is good and I can’t do it all. Summer reminds me that my garden can feed me. Words, too. And simplicity is exquisitely nourishing to body, mind and spirit. Here’s to boundaries and staying on course.

  4. Boundaries are tough for non-linear thinkers–most women and creatives. But, boundaries, just like thinking and life, need to be flexible. Of course there are non-negotiables, and I find that it’s most helpful to define those, first.

    I set intentions and goals, then I work toward them to the best of my ability. Often the universe has nifty tricks up her sleeve (does the universe have sleeves?) to trip me up, or present me with an option I had not considered, or even imagined, before.

    Set boundaries, but enjoy the journey–pure goal-orientation can be a drag–you often miss some pretty good stuff happening on the sidelines!

  5. Denise, I’ve been experiencing the same thing recently — questioning, “Why did you do that? Do you WANT to do that? What would you rather do?” and the answers have been surprising and refreshing. Without parameters or guidelines, I tend to flail all over the place and continue in mindless patterns. Some of that is from sheer laziness ;), but mostly it’s because I’ve never taken the time to define myself (my preferred term — “boundaries” is a scary one for me, too.) I also love your phrase: hold space. It feels confident and defined.

    • “Holding space” has become my catch phrase. It’s so easy for me to just let life run amok with my time. Holding space for myself and those I love and that which I want to do takes some energy and focus. As I do so; however, I’m amazed to see the form and shape of a life I love coming into being. Here’s to you and me confidently holding space.

  6. Your words are so truthful and carry so much weight.
    I hear people say “holding space” so often, but not until this moment did I FEEL that space and the container that keeps it. Thank you for your inspiration.

  7. Amen, sista!!

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