I live every day with a sense of “living the last chapter.” I live my life to the full in my work, my relationships and my health. I make choices to advance forward. To make brave new steps into the life that I want to have, being true to myself in purpose and action. My aunty once asked me about the intentions I had for my business, and I said, “Oh that’s simple. World domination.”
We are all too familiar with prioritising the needs of others above our own, but some of the things that I have learned recently have made me realise that many of you might be working a story that could do with an edit. Mental illness is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In Australia, one in five of us are fighting through a battle with our mental health right now, and the studies show us that 45% of Australians are expected to encounter this struggle at some stage of their lives. Learning how to tell stories that transform the outcomes of your life could be a game-changer.
If changing seasons have taught me anything at all it is this:
In our stories we hold our greatest power to define our outlook, and so our future
My silent season of voice loss and then recovery gave me the chance to change the stories I told myself. I had started that part of my life angry and resentful that I had lost something that I thought was central to my happiness and fulfilment. All this belief gave me was stress, depression, and an adjustment disorder that threatened to choke me with an anxiety that wouldn’t let me change. To make progress through it, I had to turn away from this mindset completely, and I had to embrace all of the opportunities that this chapter offered. At the heart of it all, I came to know myself better, and to appreciate myself for simply being me. This new gratitude opened my eyes to the strengths, skills and attributes that I already had. These assets had not been lost. They were sitting there waiting for me to unearth them and direct them towards new expression.
I put my self to work, and I found new ways to love. The loving commitment that used to train my dog every day now took her on longs walks and runs, where I could share my beautiful world with her in silence. The talkative, extroverted love that I used to splash around in my family now gave more to quality time, doing family things quietly and being grateful to simply bask in their company, without saying a word. The passion that used to partner me with my husband in business meetings and customer service now let him take the lead, while I worked behind the scenes to keep it all moving forward. The love that I had for classroom teaching became a small homework centre that met for only one hour each week. And then, as my contentment started to release my voice from the stranglehold of anxiety, my teaching turned into lecturing at university, where the lecture hall microphone preserved my recovery and allowed me to expand my horizons in the career that I loved. As I pushed forward into new seasons I made choices to grow into a richer better version of the person that I already was. I didn’t find a new me. But I did find new ways to be me, in purity and truth.
We all have stories we tell ourselves. So often we expect them to make sense, to go the way we think they should, to be what we have experienced before, and to make our expectations of the future come true. Sometimes, time can feel like the enemy, because she ushers in changes that we can barely withstand. But, there is another way of seeing this. Time is the perfect host for our ongoing stories, because she allows us to see each instant as a rolling continuation of life, connected by the glue of the clock. Our actions, and the Happenings of each moment, can easily be traced to things that have occurred Before, and they can also be understood as introducing things that will occur After.
When my aunty asked me about my business that day, I was bold and a bit cheeky. But the answer I gave her was more than empty words or arrogant ambition. Yes, my answer described my story of business growth and expansion, but it was more than this. My answer also tapped into the part of me that takes full responsibility for my contribution to this journey. You see, I don’t want to control you, I want to control me. I want to take bold steps into tomorrows that exist only because I make them so. I want to look straight into the eye of my capacity, and know that I have served my purpose in the world because I took up the challenge. I want to live up to the high calling of my purpose, and use it to serve others with a passion that can’t be stopped.