For fun and to cure boredom, many years ago my mom and I went to see a psychic. Afterward, I thought to myself how strange that the woman told me more about my husband than myself.

A few years later, freshly divorced, I took a class that focused on how to access your inner guidance. At one point the teacher described how an intuitive person could “read” or provide insight into another. She said that we carry a variety of possibilities inside us, and that the possibility with the strongest underlying energy is the one that is often read — and lived.

Thinking back to my experience with the psychic, that made perfect sense. I married at a young age without a clue as to who I was or what I really wanted in life. In a sense, I was hiding and living my life through my husband. A divorce and three children later, I was confronted with the challenge of discovering my authentic self and creating a life that supports it.

There were many layers to peel away. A multitude of indecipherable feelings tightly wound in the pit of my stomach. Not to mention, the creative gene buried, revealing itself disguised as frustration, suppressed anger and “good girl” demeanor. It was the perfect setup for major conflict and an identity crisis.

Little did I know that I was in for the fight of my life.

A tiny drop of awareness showed me that I could either repeat the pattern I was stuck in or begin the process of self-discovery.

Why am I telling you this — revealing my innermost journey? Because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if you don’t discover who you are and have an outlet to express it, your energy will turn inward — and that can be deadly.

The phrase “pent up energy” applies not only to physical energy but also emotional energy. That was my dilemma. I was raised to be a “good girl.” An honest expression of feelings was not allowed, which led to suppression, and buried feelings not acknowledged, can lead to depression, dependency and disease.

My first step was to begin the process of coming out from under the influence of mom, dad, spouse. This was huge as I came to the realization I was living the life they expected me to live. It was time to decide for myself how I wanted to live my life.

In the beginning I didn’t have a clear picture of what I wanted, so I began tossing out what I didn’t want. Yes, that’s when the marriage ended, and no, he didn’t land on his head.

I joined a woman’s support group and sat in awe as they discussed their feelings. Mine were so entangled, it was difficult for me to identify any particular one.

As a child I would sit and play the piano for hours. During my marriage I would stare at it from across the room, yet never sit down. Single again; I immersed myself in music — piano, dance, the stereo sounds spilling into the neighbor’s yard. My passion reignited.

Slowly, I sorted through my feelings, often with the help of supportive friends. A breakthrough at the piano unleashed my creativity as I began writing and composing songs.

A new world broke forth as I received newfound clarity and direction for my life. It wasn’t easy. It took courage to express myself honestly, whether in personal relationships or through my creativity. I was letting go of how others perceived me and what they thought of me. I was creating a life of purpose and meaning — a life free and unencumbered by past influences.

Are you living the life you truly want? If not, don’t make excuses as to why you’re not. Age doesn’t matter. What matters is that you begin where you are. Move beyond past influences that have held you back from being true to yourself and creating a life you love.

Let your artistic expression and your life genuinely reflect your truth. If you do, you will leave behind an inspiring and lasting legacy.

Susan Ann Darley is a creativity coach, arts writer and author. Through coaching and writing, she motivates people to use their talents and market their creative projects. For more information, click here, e-mail her at or call 805.845.3036.