Hello. Hello, beautiful friend. Thank you for tuning in today. I am actually, I normally say I’m excited to sit down and record conversations, but today I was a little nervous to sit down and record conversations because I got. A nudge that there’s something that I wrote really loved to share with you.
And it’s not something I talk about very often. But I had a very transformative experience over the last week. I was away with one of my mentors. Victoria Washington, and I was at her speaking retreat. And. This was just an incredible experience. And it was something that I invested in because I will always like invest in myself, but investing in my voice is something really important to me. I really trust I think we all have different skills and abilities.
And for those of us that are creators and express, And love to share stories. Some of us do that through the written word. Some of us do that. Through videos, some of us. I do that through voice and I love to communicate through voice. And I think that our greatest power and the way that we can be in the most amount of service is by learning how to communicate. And so I’m always investing in any tool that’s going to help me communicate better and express myself better. And so this experience. Definitely delivered exactly what I was looking for, but the outcome for me was something I wasn’t quite expecting.
So if you’ve been a long time listener of the show a lot of the things I love to talk about, I love to talk about burnout. I love to talk about the, about leadership, about the intersection of a personal evolution, how that helps you thrive in your business. It was one of my favorite things is, your business is only as healthy as you are. And energy management and personal growth and all of that.
And I love it all. Honestly this platform, this space is all of you is welcome here. And so I want to, I went into this experience. Thinking that I was going to take one of my previous talks or one of my old messages and I was going to refine it. I was going to optimize it.
I was going to spend some time perfecting it and I would come out of it with something stronger. Being able to deliver a message. Stronger. As I was arriving to the venue. And this was in San Diego. So I took a few days into San Diego to do this, and I was on the plane and the wifi of course didn’t work.
And I was originally planning on. Getting my homework done before. But I couldn’t log in. And so it was just this invitation to surrender and just be willing and open to what was coming. And so I was sitting on the plane and I was thinking about it and then I was pulling up to the venue the next day and I got this whisper and it was like, this is going to be different. The message is different and there was a voice. That whispered to me. And it said. Today, you’re going to talk about forgiveness.
And you’re going to focus on forgiveness here in this retreat. And so that was a little surprising to me. In some ways it was surprising, it felt a little exposing. It definitely awakened something in me. And the truth is behind the scenes. I think I’ve mentioned it on the podcast. A couple of times I’ve been writing a book.
I’ve been writing a book that. Was. Really, and is a story of my personal evolution as a leader. And that was. One of the catalysts for the book. And for the story and for the personal growth journey was the loss of my dad. And today I’m going to share a little bit about that because what I experienced and what I realized at this retreat was that. I have, first of all, I need to finish this book, but there’s a part of me that is so afraid of who I become when I finished this book, truthfully. And there’s a part of me that is. There’s a whole, there’s a lot. This’ll be a whole nother episode one day, but when you’re a creator and you express yourself publicly and you put things out there.
It’s an incredibly vulnerable thing. And that can bring up a lot of sensations. And I have been really resourcing myself over the last couple of years to be able to hold the sensation of the message that I want to share and the impact that I want to create. But what this experience over three days really fast-tracked for me was I got to see the impact of my story. Firsthand. And it was palpable.
It was I had 17 women in front of me crying. And specifically one woman that came up to me after, and she shared a similar story and she had shared to me that. By me sharing my story. She, it gave her permission to look at something a different way. And to forgive herself.
I felt that power.
And now I’m feeling that nudge. And now I’m on this podcast and I’m about to share with you a very intimate story. For anyone that’s lost a parent before, I want to share that this might be activating and it might be triggering. So I just wanted to give that as a disclaimer for you. And I. Also, I’m sitting here with a T and I’m like, wait a second. I got to go do some laundry. Like wanting to escape this whole moment, but here we are, we’re doing it. And I’m not even editing this podcast at all.
Taking a sip of my team. That was my promise to myself. When I sat down, I was like, you’re just going to speak. And someone’s going to need to hear this. And I felt like this topic was really important because. As we come to the end of the year. There can be so many mixed emotions. There can be so much that comes up about what we did or didn’t do what we said, what we didn’t say.
And I just, we can carry that around in it. It can become so heavy, and I know the weight of that. I know that sometimes that shitting on ourselves. Can be like a backpack full of bricks. And so if anything, what I hope that you hear today, Is an opportunity and an invitation to. Take a few of those bricks out of your backpack to Leighton. The load to speak a little kinder to yourself today. I’m going to share a little bit.
This is a very brief story of a very long one. And it’s pretty high level for you, but. This is we’re going to do it. Let’s do it. So today I’m going to talk to you about forgiveness and. I know that if you’re listening to this podcast, if you’re in this community, if you’ve been following along with me, then you probably resonate as being a person that. Wants to be powerful. Maybe you’re a powerful leader.
Maybe you’re powerful in your own community. Maybe you just want to live every day in your own power. And I want to remind you from the top of this story, that if you are truly going to be your most powerful self, your most present self, your most radiant self, your most free self. You need to forgive yourself.
So I’m going to roll the tapes back to January of 2018. And this was the beginning of this movement that I pioneered originally called the ACE collective or the ACE class. And I was launching my women’s movement across Canada. And I had just finished a sold out brunch event with a hundred women in Edmonton.
So it was our second city that we activated and I was basking in the success of that event. It was amazing. I remember. Feeling the energy and the buzz in the room and that evening. I was sitting in my hotel room and I was writing. Thank you, emails. And I was looking at all the photos from the day and. My phone rang. And it was my dad.
And in one moment, all of the gratitude and all of the joy that I was feeling transformed into resentment. And I thought to myself in that moment, I declined his call and I was like, no, Not this time, dad. Not this time, you will not take this moment for me. Not again. You have taken so many moments from me. No. I declined the call. He called again. And again, and it rang a third time and I declined the call again. And in that moment, part of me felt like I was taking my power back. And there’s a lot more to that particular story leading up to that moment, but I’ll share that in another date.
The next day. I packed my bags. I got my car full and three hour drive back home to Calgary. I walked through the doors and all I wanted to do was take a shower. So I got up. Went upstairs. Had a nice long shower felt the hot, warm water just run over me. And it was just so nice. I was just taking it all in and really just reflecting on the last couple of days and what it took to get there. And as I got out of the shower, I had soaking wet hair and I put my robe on and put my hair up on the top of my head and a hair turbine. And then I was walking down the stairs to make a cup of tea. And I heard the doorbell ring.
And my husband opened the door. And I could see on the other side of the door, two policemen were standing there. And they made eye contact with me and I hadn’t even made it to the bottom of the staircase yet. And they said is your name, Mandy Balak. And I said, yes. And they took off their hats and held it in front of their chest. And one of the officers said to me, I am so sorry, Mandy. But we were contacted by global affairs. And your father, Lee Balak, he passed away today.
I fell to my knees.
I was at the bottom of that staircase and I tumbled all the way down.
And the overwhelm of emotion that I was feeling in that moment, I couldn’t possibly fully describe for you. But the first thing I thought of was I should have answered his call.
Why didn’t I answer the phone.
The next day I got up. And I did what any high achieving overfunctioning detached entrepreneur would do. And I got up and I decided I was going to go to work. I picked up my launch plan continued on exactly where I was and said, I’m going to continue on course. Within a week, I was on a plane to Vancouver to launch another brunch in the next city. And. In the blink of an eye three years went by.
Startup awards women, entrepreneur of the year awards. For conferences, six cities, more than 300 members, 15,000 women. More than 40,000 podcast downloads. I felt none of it.
I felt none of it. Until I did.
And you know what comes next, right? The breakdown. The breakdown that leads to the breakthrough. Bernay Brown, she calls this moment, the spiritual awakening. I call it a walkout because that’s what I did. I walked out. At least I tried to. At that point in my life, I was like a kettle on the stove. And I had reached that moment of she’s going to blow. It was years of suppressing, years of shrinking. Years of avoiding years of overfunctioning and it led me to feeling like the only option that I had. To get out of this mass to get out of this emotion, to get out of the feelings. The only option I had was to burn it all down. And my attempt to walk out was actually me walking into the most important work of my life, which was my journey towards healing. And self-forgiveness.
So despite my rational brain, knowing this to be completely untrue. There was a part of me. And there is a part of me that has carried. For many years that I was responsible for my dad’s passing. That by me picking up the phone or not picking up the phone, I could have changed the situation. Along with that. The weight that it carried with me was all the things that I wish I said, all the forgiveness.
I wish I had all the. All the conversations that I would. Pay so much to have back, there was a lot. To carry for me. And. I was really good at hiding the way to this pain. I was really good at hiding it. I was really good at polishing myself for the external world. I was really good at. Reaching for anything I could do to numb the pain.
And for me, that was mostly wine and working out and work. Work was the big one. And that’s like the three W’s for a triple threat in self-destruction for me, wine working out and work. That was how I coped.
And with support. I went deep on this and I found that the key to my healing, the key to resourcing myself was in my forgiveness. For myself. Is it my forgiveness for myself. And there’s been a lot of work that I have had to do. There’s been a lot of support that I’ve had to do that I’ve been, this I’ve been so lucky to have a lot of support and amazing therapist amazing mentors amazing community.
Even, reading books and podcasts and just a commitment and a willingness to do it has been really supportive. For my path and feeling like I had safe space to, to work through this and to feel it all, but it was delayed. It was years later that I was able to come to a place of forgiveness.
And in order to find that in order to arrive at that place, I had to. I had to really choose compassion. For myself. And I had to really isolate myself from the choice. And realize that, that choice that I made to pick up the phone or not pick up the phone, there was a part of me that. Really was only capable of doing what I did that day. Based on what I had going on based on the circumstances and the relationship that was incredibly broken between my father and I, at that time, there was a lot going on. And I was doing what I could to survive and sometimes that’s all we can do. But sometimes that’s all we can do. I chose to scale a business because it was easier than feeling. The insurmountable amount of grief and loss that I had from losing my father. I chose to scale because that was easier to me.
I chose to expand my business because that was easier to me. I chose to build community because that was easier to me. And what I changed that.
I’ve created a lot of things that have helped a lot of people. And what I love to have that conversation with my dad again. Absolutely. And when I was sitting at our last Riaz conference in 2022, and I was sharing. Sharing the stage with a few people, including my, one of my mentors and my therapist gemstone. And I looked around in the audience and I saw some of my best friends who I’ve met through this journey.
And I saw some people whose lives have been transformed by the work that I’ve done. I saw some of the speakers and the connections and the network that was in front of me. And none of those things would have happened if I didn’t start my healing journey. And none of those things would have happened if I didn’t. Lose my dad. And none of those things would have happened if I healed. Right away.
It all was this delayed experience and. I really believe that sometimes the biggest pain of our life can turn into our superpowers. Sometimes our biggest wounds turn into our biggest opportunities for. Impact for growth for support. And that’s what I witnessed in front of this group of women. When I shared this story. This past weekend and I saw the emotion and I saw the permission slip that I allowed others to have from me sharing it.
And I know this because I’ve been creating rooms like this for years and years, and I’ve said it over and over again. It’s. When one person. Claims dis decides and declares, like I’m going to be vulnerable and I’m going to be real. It is a permission slip for someone else to do the same. So that was all of, it was a catalyst from some of the biggest pain and the biggest loss in my life. And what has been really helpful for me, if you are someone that is also feeling like you’re hanging onto something, or you’re carrying a lot of grief or you’re carrying a lot of loss or carrying regret. Or resentment.
I invite you today to choose forgiveness and to choose compassion.
And compassion really can become the compass. It really can. And I’ve worked with thousands of women at the table inside my mastermind groups at retreats. And. I’ve noticed this over and over again. I’ve noticed something that we all have in common. And that is that we beat ourselves down into the ground.
We beat ourselves down into the ground.
We should on ourselves. Even when we know that we shouldn’t be shitting on ourselves, we still should on ourselves. Oh, I was late. I shouldn’t have been late. Like the little things in the big things. Like I should have done this. I should’ve done that. Oh, I wish I could take that back. Whether it is as gigantic as the story that I’m sharing or it’s something as simple as. Being late, these Schultz. Are there accumulating? And it is. Holding us back from our power.
It’s taking away from our sovereignty. It is. Really just creating these fractures in ourselves. And. I really hope that you can recognize when you are shitting on yourself, that the impact that is having, and how that is modeling as well for people around you as well.
Transformation occurs when we don’t make ourselves wrong in the process. When we don’t make ourselves wrong in the process. As I was going through my healing and I realized that I was numbing my pain and the loss and my grief with work. With the three W’s with work with wine, with working out. I was originally making myself wrong about that.
Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I did that. Wow. And I was almost shaming myself for that. Those were the choices that I was making and the reality is what I’ve learned now. Like I no longer believe that. I think that. Sometimes. Survival mode is the mode and we got to do what we need to do to survive.
And that was my survival pattern. And it truly kept me alive. And. By continuing to build my community by continuing to build space for people to be vulnerable by continuing. Two. Invite vulnerability to the table. It also allowed me to keep healing. So don’t make yourself wrong in the process. Just have compassion and recognize that when you catch yourself, In a pattern of being hard on yourself of shitting on yourself to stop to pause. To take a moment and to make a new choice. And let that choice be one of compassion. And maybe even forgiveness.
And when we make new choices, it’s so important to celebrate ourselves for that. To when we interrupt the pattern to acknowledge ourselves. And when we choose a new way to really celebrate that within ourselves, because. That helps us attract more of that helps us choose that more often, that becomes more common. That we are reaching.
For compassion rather than criticism.
The woman who I have witnessed changed their lives, breakthrough pattern, step into their potential, the most and myself included. They are the women who have learned how to forgive themselves. Not only for the big things, but for the little things. And to do that in small ways, every single day. To find compassion and love for not just the, for also for the ugliest parts of themselves.
It’s. It’s when we can really learn to look at the things that we really don’t love. The parts of us, the parts of us, the old versions of us that we’re not proud of. And when we can learn to forgive her or forgive him, or, forgive that part of us. That’s where our freedom lies.
That’s where freedom lives.
That’s where our liberation lives. That’s when we can really live.
Live free of blaming ourselves,
so as we come to the close of what I know is a year of massive transformation. For some of us, there was a lot of destruction for some of us. There was resurrection for some of us, there were ends of cycles and beginnings of cycles. And. There were so many emotions that have come up and lots of shoulds.
Some blames. As we come to the end of the year, it can be a time to blame ourselves or blame others for what we have or what we don’t have or where we got to or where we didn’t go to. And I invite yourself to just let yourself off the hook.
To just write yourself a letter forgiveness. This can be an extremely powerful exercise, even just starting with this one prompt.
I forgive myself for.
And even if you’re not really. Even if you’re not, don’t really have full conviction on that yet you can start with willingness. You can start with, I am willing to forgive myself for. You can start there. That’s really all we can ever do is. Understand and recognize that. The past versions of ourselves, we’re doing the best that they could.
And every month they offer my community a theme to reflect on.
In this month, I asked my community to reflect on the theme of choice. Choice.
The choices that we made. The ones we didn’t, the choice is still left to be made. And an acknowledgement that there is no right or wrong. There is just choice. There’s no right choice. There’s no wrong choices. No right path. There’s no left path. That’s just, it just is. There’s just his choice. And we get to learn from those choices. And we get to let go of the emotion tied with those choices and we get to hold the lesson in our hearts. And for some of us that have a painful lesson.
We can also transform that lesson into.
A superpower. Compassion really is the compass. So as I come to the end of this, I invite you to take a deep breath with me.
Stay connected with your breath for a moment. And just dig in here a little bit and ask yourself. Where may you need to forgive yourself?
Where may you need to forgive yourself?
Where our shoulds. Running the show.
Where our shoulds running the show.
And what is that costing? You?
If you’re anything like me. Holding onto those shoulds holding on to. The grief, the resentment. Holding on to the shoulds, it might be costing you, your joy. It might be costing you your presence. It might be costing you, your vitality. And it might be costing you, your ability. To witness and experience and step into. Your own power.
Forgiveness is one of the bravest journeys that you can take. It requires willingness to go within. Willingness to peel back your layers, willingness to let yourself feel. And invites you to take the trip from your head to your heart, which is said to be one of the longest journeys that you’ll ever take.
I sit in a place of forgiveness for myself.
It has not been an easy journey. Absolutely not. And it’s a recommitment every single day. So I share this with you today because I want to remind you that. It might not be easy. But on the other side of experiencing the pain. On the other side of. Giving yourself the gift of forgiveness. You get to stretch and you get to expand your capacity for joy. For freedom. And for love.
So today you can start by taking one very small step. And you can just start with willingness. If it feels good for you, you can put your hand on your heart. Or just take another deep breath.
And bring to mind what you need to forgive yourself for.
And then say out loud with me, I am willing to forgive myself.
I am willing. To forgive myself.
If you want to become her, you need to forgive her.
I’m sending so much love to you, my friend. Thank you for Allowing me to speak that truth today. And it would mean the world to me. If this resonated, if you. Could share a note for me. I read every note. Anyone sends me for feedback about the podcast. It. Means a lot. As creators here, always hanging in the dark, wondering how our message lands.
And if you’re a podcast or you’re probably moving from one thing to the next, or you’re out on a dog walk or listening in the car, but taking the extra moment to share this with your friends or someone that needs to hear this message or sending a DM to me and sharing your story or your feedback or anything like that, it goes a long way.
And. It inspires us creators to continue to create and express and share our truth so that you can find new depths of yourself as well, and be the best version of yourself. So I’m sending so much love and I will see you in the next episode. Thank you. Bye for now.