I gazed at my reflection in the mirror and couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I looked weary and felt tired. My skin was blotchy. My hair was too blonde. My eyelashes were too long. I glanced at the phone to see if there was a text from my latest love interest — there wasn’t. My mood was often totally dependent on whether I received a vacuous message from the man du jour. Although boxes would arrive almost daily with new, stylish clothes, I always felt I had nothing to wear. I rationalized my spending by telling myself this was my time for reinvention. In some sense, this was true. But it was not my looks or wardrobe that needed to be revived – it was my spirit.

At forty years old, I found myself recently divorced and recovering from a doomed love affair, which left me feeling anxious, depressed, and confused. My energy was off — way off. I thought to myself, “I don’t feel like a goddess.” Interestingly, those are the words that came to mind because I hadn’t spent much time considering what it felt like to be a goddess until then. I now believe the goddess came back to me when I needed her the most. It was then that I decided I would start to act like a goddess.

First, I became hyper-focused on my appearance. I made sure that I always looked my best. That didn’t bring me any peace because the more I focused on my looks, the more I thought something was wrong with them. I went on a lot of dates with men. Since I was looking for men to validate my worthiness, I felt crushed if things didn’t work out — even if I didn’t think that we were a match. When these attempts didn’t bring me any closer to feeling like a goddess, I tried to mask my unease and uncertainty with alcohol. Of course, drinking didn’t help. I just felt guilty that I relied on a substance to provide me with comfort. Habitual drinking made me feel numb, complacent, and stuck.

As I looked into the mirror on that cold January day, I said to myself, “This cannot be the life of a goddess.” I decided it was time to do some research. I read countless books on goddesses and began to practice what I was learning. I quickly realized that my strategies had been all wrong. Becoming a goddess had nothing to do with an aesthetic I created, items I possessed, or men I dated. Feeling divine was an inside job. I began to care for my body, develop self-love, pursue interests that sparked joy, and rediscover my sexuality. Becoming a goddess was not a look – it was a way of life.

I looked to the Hawaiian goddess Pele to help me destroy harmful habits and replace them with more empowering ones. I became aware of my dependency on alcohol. I began to hear an inner voice, let’s call her Pele, whisper, “You will not find peace in a vodka and soda.” I knew this habit was preventing me from fulfilling my potential. Gradually, I started to drink less — eventually only on special occasions. I began to eat mostly plant-based meals, made sure I got a good night’s sleep and moved my body in strengthening ways. Once I felt healthy and strong in my physical body, I was called to consider my relationships, creativity, and sexuality.

Around this time, I came across this quote from the late Dr. Wayne Dyer: “You don’t attract what you want. You attract what you are.” It was clear that I was not attracting the type of man I wanted in my life, so I began to look inward. I was operating from a place of neediness and uncertainty. Validation and reassurance were my top priorities. Thus, I found myself attracting needy men. The Hindu goddess Parvati taught me to cultivate the qualities I wanted in a partner. I took a hiatus from dating. I began to consider the attributes I wanted, like competence, confidence, and emotional stability. I worked with a therapist to overcome my insecurities to enter a relationship healthy and whole — and attract the same.

Rather than curate my appearance or acquire a partner to make it look like I was leading a #blessed life, I decided to focus on creating a life that I found compelling. I started to not only rediscover my passions — but actually pursue them. I became recommitted to my 20+ year yoga and spirituality practice. I even became a yoga teacher and started to study Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science that optimizes health through body, mind, and spirit). Several years after my heart-to-heart mirror talk, I left my secure corporate job as a user experience designer to follow my passions. I started a blog, began teaching yoga and spirituality, and wrote a book, The Goddess Solution. I feel inspired and engaged every day. The Hindu goddess Saraswati reminded me that I connect with the divine when I pursue the things that light me up.

I began to rediscover my sexuality. I learned what turned me on and what gave me pleasure. Sex was no longer an afterthought or a side dish but an area to prioritize and explore. It was a way to reconnect with my body and learn more about my primal desires. I made sure that my sexual encounters were strengthening, and my partner had my best interest in mind (this hadn’t always been the case). The Norse goddess Freya reminded me that my sexual energy was also my spiritual energy and can be a gateway to the divine when used wisely.

Of course, tapping into my inner goddess came with some upheaval. Structures and beliefs needed to be destroyed for new ones to arise. My marriage, career, friendships, and habits were reevaluated and dismantled to clear the path for me to align with my goddess nature. Though this brought tears, worry, and doubt, it also brought a sense of freedom and purpose. Not only that, but the dissolution of some structures has enabled me to rebuild my life in a way that is more authentic to me and allowed me to evolve into a better mother, daughter, partner, and friend.

Becoming a goddess wasn’t about securing love from others or curating a life that looks appealing – it was about loving myself and living my truth. As I began to take responsibility for my happiness, health, and peace of mind, my life started to flow with ease. I became a goddess when I stopped looking in the mirror and started looking inside.