When I was a little girl, I knew what I wanted. My strong spirit shouted loudly—and I listened. 

I wore what felt good on my body. I hung up my ballet slippers and laced up my soccer cleats. I entered the spelling bee—and crushed it. I won a speech competition. Yup, I let my voice boom without any concern of what others thought. 

But then hills grew on my chest and my hips widened. Overnight, it felt like people had opinions. I grew too loud. I should be wearing this, not that. I was too much—of everything. 

So, slowly, I began to listen to the outside world more and my inner spirit less. I grinded through high school, college, young adulthood, and even early motherhood doing whatever society expected of me. Even when I knew breastfeeding wasn’t for me and my baby, I kept trying (and struggling) because I felt judged by everyone. I signed my kids up for far too many activities—overscheduling all of us because that’s what everyone else did. We grew tired. And honestly, it didn’t feel like we were living. It felt more like a mad dash, only on a hamster wheel. 

As I neared 40, though, I began to hear my inner child again. My boldness quietly began to surge again. 

And it felt good. 

Then the pandemic hit. And the world stopped. 

My little family of four found ourselves immersed outside. Like so many, we had nowhere else to go, after all. Nature nurtured our spirits so much, in fact, that we decided to homeschool for a year. So, we road-schooled from Metro-Detroit, Michigan to the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. We found solace in the forests and along the shores of northern Michigan. 

We began to live. 

And Mother Nature gave us the freedom to do it. 

I watched my kids’ curiosity flourish. They’d stop along a trail to observe a snail inching through the mud or a mushroom on a log. They also became brave, climbing trees, boulders, and mountains. And, they were free, too. Stomping in the mud, squealing rolling down the sand dunes, and running through the forests. 

Watching my children come alive, made my inner child come alive, too. My voice grew from a whisper to a roar. I knew in my heart we couldn’t go back to our old life. So, I began to trust myself—just like I did when I was a little girl. 

I started researching outdoor schools and best places to live an outdoor lifestyle in our state. As a family, we talked about the possibility of moving, visited schools and towns, and did a lot of contemplating. 

But in my heart, I knew we had to go. To be among the trees. To let the waves of Lake Michigan calm our spirits. We had to go. 

So, for the first time since I was that brave little girl, I encouraged my family to make a bold move. And we did. We uprooted our life to settle three hours north. 

Now that we’ve been settled for a few months, it already feels like home. I knew that it was the thing to do. I just needed to trust myself—listen to my own inner voice. Just like I did when I was the loud girl with the booming voice. 

Perhaps your bold move isn’t moving. Maybe it’s going back to school to get a degree, leaving an unhealthy marriage, changing careers, trying to have another baby. Whatever it is, pretend you’re that little girl again. She’ll guide you. I’m telling you; she’ll guide you. 

And you know what? That little girl will be proud. So damn proud.