Mama of four Maria Boznovska is an author, motivational speaker; thought leader and inspirational woman behind the highly engaged Facebook page Live Gratefully. But it wasn’t always that way.
After years of hardship and turmoil, Maria found her purpose in becoming grateful and has dedicated her life to finding blessings in the hardships—and inspiring others to do the same through her introspective discoveries, thought-provoking poetry and lead-by-example journey.
She shared her story with me…
How was Live Gratefully born?
The idea of Live Gratefully was literally conceived sitting in a cafe in Bondi Junction in Sydney, Australia. A gorgeous little vegan cafe with amazing food and equally amazing coffee. I was sitting there having lunch with my adult children and just sharing my feelings and perspective on all things called “life”. Above the coffee machine was a chalk board with perhaps 50 or so words written on it, in no particular order. In fact, quite ramdomly placed in the same small font. Looking at it when we first walked in, all the words seemd scambled and no one word particularly stood out over another.
I shared with my children an idea I had for some time which was to create a public facebook page where I could blog, write posts and share poetry which would help me navigate my journey through life. It was a public diary, which would enable me to find my voice and express my feelings.
Having experienced excruciating painful circumstances throughout my life including being overweight and body image issues as a teenager, divorce after 24 years of marriage, miscarriage and depression, writing enables me to give voice to these feelings.
Writing takes me to a place of peace, serenity and unconditional love. Having experienced excruciating painful circumstances throughout my life including being overweight and body image issues as a teenager, divorce after 24 years of marriage, miscarriage and depression, writing enables me to give voice to these feelings.
I was reflecting with my children that despite my past, how grateful I was for my life. In fact, my decision was to embrace life and continue to live gratefully and enjoy each moment. For a split second I looked over to the board, two words stuck out from the chalk board and they were Live and Gratefully. And that’s how the name was created. The blosomming of a new found passion and purposeful living.
What experiences did you have as a mother that brought you to the moment of awakening and change?
I’ve always felt the need to be the perfect mother. I always aimed to be the “perfect” of everything; wife, daughter, employer, friend, sister and more. I understand the whole struggle of wanting to give everything to your children and to everyone you love. In doing so, I neglected my self care and this impacted my happiness.
As I continued to focus on the big picture, I continued to lose sight of my simple needs to stay healthy and happy as I was too busy trying to please everyone else. What I realised is my children just wanted a mum who is happy. And so the realisation that happiness begins with “me” awakened.
It was the awakening before the awakening that ultimately I was responsible for my own happiness and that the buck stopped with me. It didn’t matter what my past was. What mattered was what I did from here on and that I had a free will and the power of choice. I could chose how I wanted to live my life and could create what I always imagined it to be. A new sense of freedom was born.
Why do you think we as mothers have to be able to do it all and be everything to everyone?
It’s the culture we live in, societal expectation and our own imposition to be all things to all people. Everything in life is determined by our decision to live out of fear or to live out of love. When you live out of fear, as I had done in the past, you are forever trying to please others to gain their love. And so I lived my life in this way, because ultimately I craved the love I had failed to give myself. I like most people aimed to be the perfect person for fear that I will be judged as being less than perfect and not good enough and ultimately be unloved.
What changed for you when you began to put some of your needs first?
Everything changed from that moment on. A huge lifting of burden off my shoulders that I had been carrying around for most of my life. This year I turned 49—now that’s a long time to be carrying a burden of expectation.
Ultimately I can choose how to live my life and am not defined by my past. Self care allowed me to return to “myself”, to acknowledge and awaken my dreams. To consider and honour what are my highest values and make a decision to live in accordance with that even though it will displease those around me. In fact, it has been those around me that have struggled to deal with my growth.
Putting my needs first has enabled me to find the energy, the comfort and the hope to keep engaging with life and to embrace who I am and who I chose to be, despite the challenges I face. Life is an evolution and our growth is a process of our journey.
What advice would you give to other mamas who might be going through a particularly difficult time?
It takes courage, energy and ongoing commitment to your self care which supports you and enables you to keep turning towards life, especially when faced with challenging situations. This may seem like a difficult thing to do at first and often we feel guilty when focusing on our own needs and our happiness.
Living a conscious life for me seemed more difficult in the short term as it was easier to follow popular culture, easier to follow the latest fads and diets, easier to please those around me in order to keep the peace, easier to stay in the friends circle even though I could see we were walking different paths, easier to remain in an unpleasant marriage for fear that I wouldn’t be able to survive on my own.
It takes courage, energy and ongoing commitment to your self care which supports you and enables you to keep turning towards life, especially when faced with challenging situations.
Rather what I have experienced is that when I reached a certain commitment to myself, it actually became easier to live a conscious life of following my heart and what makes me happy than what I expected it to be. Making conscious what makes me feel good and happy, enables me to recover and face adversity during challenging times. It is a reminder of my strengths and individuality, my right to enjoy life and the greater awareness that I am a better person by doing what is right for me. By staying true to myself, indeed I am happier and this reflects in my relationship first and foremost with myself, my children, my family, my friends and others.
My advice is for you to make that commitment to yourself too . And as you do you will find that you are willing to give the amount of energy and attention to your simple needs whether they be physical, emotional and spiritual as necessary without apology or regret. Without embracing this commitment wholeheartedly, there is no connection to yourself and it isn’t your life that you are living, rather someone elses.
The more in touch you are with yourself, the less likely you are to people please and deny your needs for the sake of pleasing others by conforming to their expectations. Find courage and strength to embrace who you are and in the process illuminate your ideas, energy and uniquiness to the world. It’s what we are here on this earth to do. We all have special gifts to share with the world and it starts with each of us accepting, embracing and honouring who we are.
As a coach, how do you help women find and awaken their true selves?
Life is a matter of perspective. There is no one size fits all. The key to a great teacher is one who provides a safe space that helps the client to determine their own truth rather than impose the values and systems of a culture and society. Understanding this takes the pressure off and the need to follow “one way” to be happy. I adopt this principle and help my clients awaken their unique selves by encouraging, supporting, facilitating a process whereby they can explore, understand and determine their own truth by tapping into their internal resources.
Everything we need, we already have; all the answers, all the questions, all the knowledge exists within each of us.
If someone wants to find out more about your coaching and mentoring services, where should they go?
Feel free to contact me through email or my Facebook and website. Also through my PR in relation to keynote speaking, panels, media interviews. You can also receive my weekly Letter of Love: Note to Self here.