You Can Have a Tender Heart And Still Be Fierce

“Life is a balance between what we can control and what we cannot. I am learning to live between effort and surrender.” ~Danielle Orner

For too long, I felt myself pulled between two shores of my identity. On one side was my yoga teacher, meditator, healer identity—my tender side. On the other side was my activist, change-maker role—my fierce side.

I always felt like I was too tender for some and too fierce for others. It made me feel like I didn’t fit in anywhere.

Definitely the soft-hearted “woo” person in my activist circles. And I was definitely the one talking about structural oppression and other activist ideas in my yoga teacher trainings. (The ahimsa lecture was always a sticky one.)

What I now know is that both of these sides of myself are valid. Both are necessary for living in the world, whether you want to bring healing, love, and light—or whether you want to really shake things up.

The problem is not that both of these exist (both do, in all of us). The problem is what happens when they are out of balance.

When we favor our tender side too much, we might succumb to heartbreak and collapse. If we let our fierce side get too strong, our anger might consume us until we flame out. Either option is a recipe for burnout and exhaustion.

This is your official permission slip to embrace both of these sides of yourself.

When I became a mom, my perspective shifted dramatically. While I aimed to be a tender, safe container for my baby, I also had to be a warrior-advocate for him on a number of fronts.

New motherhood was also a time when I had to admit vulnerabilities in myself like I never had before, while having less access to outlets for my fierce activism. I had to admit that I had no idea what I was doing; that I needed help; and that I needed to take a step back from certain areas of life.

It was tender. And it was an act of fierce self-love. I learned that we needed both, not just within us, but at the same time.

My self-care also shifted. I couldn’t procrastinate or be wishy-washy anymore. I had to clearly (sometimes fiercely communicate) my needs.

I also had to slow way down and shift my expectations for myself. I had to invite a sense of tenderness into my days, even when it would have been much easier to push harder. I incorporate a sense of flow into my days, even when it feels challenging to allow myself that.

That looks like taking dedicated, structured time for myself and my work when my energy is high. And it…

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