When The Blackness Comes

Yes, this actually happened. And it terrified me enough to shock me into action.
img_6363The Tullamarine Freeway in Melbourne, Australia is a busy place at 8:30 on a Wednesday morning, with people just like me beeping and bustling their way through traffic, navigating a lightning fast pathway through cars, trucks and motor bikes, making lane changes that concern only them. Little regard is held for our driving peers, who function merely as inconvenient obstacles to avoid and contend with. My life had been a pressure cooker of late. I had held on tight through a sequence of events that all of the psychology books would say should have burst my stress limits. 18 months ago I moved interstate to begin my new city life with my husband, but only a few weeks after that I lost a close friend to suicide. Later that year I lost my aunty to cancer, and then my best doggie friend to a tiger snake in our back year. Only a few months after that I found my husband dead in our kitchen.
This final, hellish part of the nightmare initiated a domino effect that uprooted every last remnant of my life’s security. The couple of staff who worked in the business I used to share with my husband left after a few months. My English warehouse assistant had an expired work Visa, and my warehouse manager buckled under the pressure of losing his best mate. Closing the doors on this family operation would have forced me into bankruptcy, so to keep the operation running I had to relocate my entire warehouse to a third-party order fulfilment company. After six months of back breaking work and endless obstacles, I made the decision to sell my entire business, which took a full gruelling year of preparation, debt repayment and restructuring.  On top of all that, I had to down-size my personal life to make it something that I could manage, which meant moving house to a home that was easier to maintain than the 6 acre property we had shared,  Overwhelming is not the word for it … But I was fine. Really. I’m fine.
That was what I told myself, even though I barely slept or ate throughout this period, and even though I would wake in panic every morning. I was running on the adrenalin that my body gifted me to survive. I was fine.
And then I wasn’t.
The Tullamarine Freeway is not the place to have a blackout, but I have never been the compliant sort. It was only a few seconds. Of complete shut down. No sights. No sounds. No thoughts. Nothing but silent darkness. Like the sleep that eluded me, and the peace that had vanished, the blackness came.
The first time it happened I shook my head and quickly orientated myself to my location, checking the time, and examining the buildings, and reading street signs to get my head back in the game of driving alongside my peers at 100km/hr. And I thought I would be fine. I committed myself to an early night.
The second time it happened I was worried, but by the third time, I knew I was in trouble. My brain was stealing the rest it needed from me. She refused to comply. She demanded that I pay attention. She had written me a formal warning for the death sentence that was likely to be executed on that freeway if I didn’t yield.
If nothing else, my son and my daughter needed me to take this seriously. I made my first psychologist appointment that very day, and spent my first session crying like a baby. I am convinced that admitting I needed help saved my life. And I am convinced I am not alone in that.
Get the help you need! Your vulnerability is not your weakness, but your greatest strength. It is the seed of your humanity and the core of the the passion that will drive you to serve others with understanding, empathy and compassion. Asking for it might be the bravest thing you do in your life.

Love Letter

I went for a walk today. It was the first walk I have had in a while. Life is busy. I work long and hard through days that sometimes feel like they are getting shorter. I love it all though because I am passionate about my work. I am fuelled by a sense of mission which drives everything I do, and everything I have, towards the fulfilment of my purpose. I do get tired, I admit … but I never grow weary of this mission. It is an honour and privilege that I appreciate every single day. What I do is directly connected to my Infinite Self.

Now I am home from my walk, and I have pulled my laptop out. I am sitting on the small balcony that connects my bedroom to the view of my little street. It is not glamorous, but it does make me feel special. It is a private little space that I use to press the pause button on my life. From my spot here I reflect on life. I think about me, and I think about you too. Right now, I am bursting! For the past hour and a half I have been consumed by thoughts that were ready to explode out of me … here is what I am compelled to share with you today:

You are spectacular. There is no-one like you in the entire world. No-one has ever been like you, nor will there ever be. No one could take your place. You are the only one of your kind. You are more precious than rare. You are a one-off. A singular, never-to-be-seen-again treasure. You are perfectly unique and especially distinctive.

Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

Your beauty cannot be equalled or surpassed. It is beyond compare.

You are priceless.

You are worthy.

You are enough.

You are everything.

 

You have a heart of gold that is made full as it flows in love to your people. You have a unique compassion, a sharp insight, a profound understanding, an endless investment. You care deeply about those around you, giving selflessly and without question to meet the needs of those you love. You are a bastion of love, a defender of justice, an advocate for those who can’t defend themselves. You have so much to offer. Safety. Acceptance. Warmth. Strength. Hope. Empathy. Encouragement. Support. Courage. Momentum. Promise.

The gifts that you have for the world will leave a lasting impact, and you are the only one who can bring them. Only you can walk the steps of your journey, combining moments of opportunity with your inimitable offering to enhance your world. You make everything better simply by doing your part. You make the most of every opportunity that comes your way, because you exist to make a difference.

Sometimes your involvement feels small, and it seems to dissolve away quickly. Other times the ripples of your influence spread far and wide, creating changes that last. In it all, you have an effect on the world that can only be made by you. Only you are able to steer your course. You make decisions, connect people, resist wrongs, keep trying, win battles, maximise opportunities. In your powerful autonomy you do the big things and the little things that only you can do. 

Champion the cause of the incredible human being you see in the mirror. Care for them with fondness, compassion, grace. Nurture them with tenderness, optimism, hope. Protect them with strength, pride, importance. Nourish them with rest, health, well-being. Expand them with learning, risks, action. That person in the mirror is your greatest asset, your most valuable prize, your most precious resource. They are the victor of your battle and the hero of your story. They make it all happen. They make it all worth it.

And now, I would love you and I to make ourselves a cup of tea. Let’s just linger here and inhale the significance of the moment we have just shared, together …

Don’t Rush Out Of Church

Life is often busy and rushed. Sometimes the rushing comes from deadlines and the pressure to keep up. Other times it comes from anticipation and the excitement of something new. Whatever the reason, rushing can feel stressful and scattered, and it can often result in us neglecting the most important parts of life.

When Alec and I were married we did what everyone does and employed the services of a photographer. Fortunately for us, our photographer ran his business from his home, which was right next door to ours. It was wonderful to share the day with a neighbour and friend. The exceptional service he gave us on the day, and the jaw-dropping quality of the photos he provided after, showed that he deserved his outstanding reputation.

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Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

It is easy to get caught in the rushing whirlwind of the every day

This was a busy day full of gushing rush and organised chaos. It was a day filled with a whirlwind schedule and emotional moments that swept us off our feet. Alec and I were both the same on that day. Even though we loved every minute, the day was fast and furious and sometimes felt like a blur. It would have been easy to miss the flashes of sparkling moments that showered all around us that day. With so much to do, and so many feelings buzzing around, we could have floated away into our own reality, not noticing everything that made the day so spectacular.

Our photographer was a seasoned professional, having been in the industry for decades. He knew that it was typical of the bride and groom to become caught up in the thrill of the day. He had seen people miss out on the special moments that time would transform into life long memories. To help us connect with our guests straight after the ceremony, he passed on advice that remains with me to this day:

“When the ceremony is over, don’t rush out of the church. You will want to go fast because it is so exciting and new, but if you leave the church too quickly, you will find there is no-body outside. All of your guests will be inside with you, so stay there with them, and share the first moments of your marriage with the people you love.”

I was so grateful for his suggestion, because it was the one tip that made me focus on savouring precious wedding-day moments with my loved ones. These moments would never come around again. Without this advice I suspect I would have rushed out of the church, and missed out on priceless moments of connection with my guests. The words of my photographer expanded the meaning of my wedding day to include the connection and relationship that I share with all of my loved ones.

To this day, those words from my photographer still ring in my ears. I reflect on the wisdom of this advice regularly. As I get older I see more and more clearly that our lives are made full only when we share them with the ones we love. I know what it’s like to feel rushed and pressured. It is a sensation of frenzy and adrenalin that can have us racing right past the life we live today. To be caught in a life that becomes a blur of forward pursuit and anticipation about the future is to overlook the defining importance of the relationships we share with our people. We must come to value the time and attention that it takes to connect with the people who share our journey. This investment provides us with the support, significance and compassion that we need to sustain a life of unstoppable passion.

When Everything Changed Forever

In sharing with you today I would like to explore how we can strategically pull our words together to craft the stories that have the capacity to open up the deepest passions of our heart. In fact, I would like to suggest that, from before we can even remember, we have been crafting a story that has lead each one of us to the things that we are the most passionate about today. You have come here with your story, and you carry it around with you everywhere you go. You have stories about your childhood and family, your experiences in school and work, your friendships and the events of your life. You also have stories about the way that certain things have affected you, and how you have become the person you are today. Each of you have a series of stories explain how you came to the work you do now. What drew you to it? Why does it suit you? And how do you continue to pour yourself into it every single day

I want to tell you about the time in my life that showed me just how powerful story is to ignite our deepest passions, and change the outcomes of our life. Actually, I am going to tell you two stories. The first story is about my husband Alec. It does have an end, so it comes as a neat package we will all understand. It has a beginning and a middle as well, so let’s get started …

Melbourne based professional speaker

We delighted in sharing our life together, 24/7.

In May 2014 Alec and I were both stretched. Working our online retail business full time together was tough. We were in constant pursuit of goal posts that always seemed to be moving. We were both exhausted. On the 27th May I finished a two week stint of Jury Duty that I did simply to make the most of an opportunity of a break that I had wanted for years. Now, I am the world’s worst nurse, and I was tired. Please believe me when I say that you would be better to hunt for sympathy from a hungry bear than to come to me when you are unwell. My absence had placed Alec under immense strain, and on this day Alec was so run down that I said to him in all of my warmth and compassion “Alec, you’re not well. Why don’t you stay home and rest, and I will take care of things at the warehouse for today. We can watch the State of Origin together tonight.”

It was weird that Alec didn’t answer my texts or emails that day, but I thought maybe he was just getting the rest he needed. After work, I picked up my sixteen year old Isabelle and we grabbed supplies from the shop on the way home. State of Origin: Instant Treat Night at the Nelson’s. I lead us both into the kitchen, bustling through to dump our bags on the bench. As I came around to the other side of the bench, I saw a sight that caused instant panic.

Alec was lying face down on the kitchen floor. I felt scared. I was confused.

My heart was pounding and my head was spinning. This must be a joke.

“Alec? … Alec?”

He didn’t respond. Even though I feared the worst, I walked over to him and touched his neck. His skin was just as soft as ever, and the shaggy brown curls of the hair I always loved covered part of his face. But his skin was stone cold.

I have never felt the world rush so fast and yet stop so hard.

I sent Isabelle out to go and wait on the verandah while I rang the ambulance. Everything from my waist down was literally shaking. I leaned against the bench to help me stand. But from my waist up, I had a job to do. I gave all the details they needed, but when they asked me to turn Alec over, I couldn’t.

“I don’t know what has happened, so I am scared of what I will see on his face. He is cold and his body is stiff and heavy. There is no point, sir. My husband is dead.”

I learned later that my husband had a heart attack caused by a fatal combination of alcohol and medication. It was a tragic accident that no-one saw coming. I could have drowned in the dull, overwhelming cloud of grief, but I didn’t. My recovery consolidated lessons that have changed my life, and allowed me to be free to live for my passions without limits. My story is the second story, and it is nowhere close to the end.

I have learned by experience that our stories are more than just coffee conversations. Our stories are where the most powerful part of our identity is formed and held.  Research shows that it is in our stories that we come to understand ourselves and others, that we interact with our world, and that we gather the information we use to move forward in our lives. Our stories are like our own personalised meaning generators. We throw all of our experiences, thoughts, feelings and knowledge into our stories, and The nature of the story we construct establishes our position in any given moment. Our narrative defines our capacity to believe, to respond, to change, to grow.

Your Awakening Is Now

IMG_6815Your Infinite Self is the eternal person inside of you who operates out of an endless source of purity, liberated from all limits. Within your Infinite Self lies this eternal truth: Your greatest treasure is you, in all your shining glory, given freely as a gift to the world. The realisation of this treasure is a matter for you, and you alone. You are the only holder of the key and the unlocker of your soul.  When it comes to matters of your passion, your purpose, your place, there are no questions that can be asked or answered outside of your person, because it is all you, every precious part of it. Your fulfilment will not be obtained by anything you take on from the world around you, nor will it be earned by anything you do amidst your busy days. Your deepest fulfilment can only be gained as you connect with the eternity that dwells within you. There are no actions that can possibly come close to reflecting the endless expanse of the person you have always been, in the secret place. It is only as you refine yourself down to liquid gold that your treasure can be poured out. Your world has been waiting for the flow that only you can dispense from your Infinite Self, but you bravely declare that you are willing and invested, because who you are was always purposed to flow freely.

You already have everything you need to activate your own awakening

Your Infinite Self exchanges pride for confidence, so you can stand tall with your head held high.  At your core, you are adorned with a halo of honesty, and the robes of generosity.  The motives of your purest heart are always true. This heart craves a transparency that opens its arms wide to welcome intimate connection with others. Your Infinite Self is unbroken, having been made strong and confident in forgiveness and restoration. From this wholeness, your vulnerability is your greatest strength, because it is secure in a trust that extends only from your grace, without the blemish of fear, doubt or defensiveness. Your Infinite Self is complete in every way.

Your Infinite Self longs for you to pursue growth into the space that is free from the pain of old wounds, the toxicity of offence, the destruction of learned negative behaviours, the exhaustion and self-loathing of perfectionism, and the eroding effects of compromise. Your Infinite Self relies on you standing tall as an advocate, willing and able to advance the pathway of liberated expression, which requires an integrity that purifies you. This cleansing is a life-long expedition of refinement that will see you progressively remove sedimentary deposits of hurt, brokenness, destructive habits, poisonous mindsets, unforgiveness, and insecurity. As you come to rid yourself of these parasites, you begin to unearth the beautiful, powerful you that was hidden in there all along.

When your belief system is perfectly in line with your actions, your Infinite Self heaves a sigh of relief. It is liberating to have the burden of inconsistency and compromise lifted from your shoulders. In your Infinite Self there is no conflict, because you are in tune with your inner motives and your actions in the world. Who you are in yourself is perfectly aligned with who you are in the world. As this cleansing journey unfolds, Your Infinite Self comes to experience the empowering release of knowing that purity of heart is where freedom dwells.

Infinite Self, you are a perfect parcel of every good thing. You are more precious than a rare treasure, you are a momentary sparkle in all of creation that will never be seen again.

 

Off To The Big Smoke

It’s been a while since I have written my reflections here. Moving across to this new site has been a big ordeal, but we’re here now, and I would like to pick up where I left off.

Healthy. Healed. Whole. A clean bill of health after recovering my voice, and a business that was thriving. In 1999 I met my husband Alec selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door, and all of these years later, we were still working this industry, now selling vacuum cleaner spare parts online. We had vacuum bags and filters and every spare part you could imagine. They were bursting at the seams of our home garage that doubled as our business warehouse and vacuum repair centre. Small country towns are great for that: Growing home made businesses.

Both of us shared the same goals and priorities. And for as long as we could remember we had both wanted to move to Melbourne. We were drawn to the world’s most liveable city, where we planned to extend our networking connections and make the most of importing opportunities. We were also optimistic about building new relationships with clients who had deeper pockets than our regular customers in Wagga Wagga NSW.

On the Australia day weekend of 2013 we finally managed to make that move. This was life-changing for us for a number of reasons. Firstly, it marked the start of the chapter that had us both working full time for our business. We weren’t flush with cash, but our business needed my pair of full time hands because they were cheap without being nasty to our increasing volume of customers, and to our need for a manager to organise the mess of the filing cabinet that my Entrepreneur husband had made. I very happily left my work in education to join in this business adventure with my husband. Building this operation was certainly not my purpose, but I saw it as a very important stepping stone that we could use strategically to get us from Point A to Point B. The plan was to grow the business to a stage that it ran largely on its own, then move to London to replicate our model there, and then use the passive income from these online businesses to work in community based projects. In this future life, Alec was looking forward to helping entrepreneurs in developing countries, and I was keen to return to the classroom to empower communities through education.

Melbourne based professional speaker

Our move from Wagga Wagga to Melbourne was life changing for us

The first year and a half in Melbourne was intense as we navigated our way through the complexities of living and working together full time. As time rolled into the 2014 new year our tenacious commitment had allowed us to achieve a few significant milestones, but we struggled to bring our young business into the black. This is was an incredibly challenging time for us, but in working and living together 24/7 together, neither of us would have had it any other way. The frustration of ongoing debt and goal posts that seemed to be perpetually in motion was overwhelming, for both of us.

Who knows what it feels like to be snowed under?

We were not ok. I was becoming increasingly worn down by working outside of my passion. I was invested in building our business with Alec because I have always had a passion for freedom and empowerment, but, just like those old Godfrey’s Vacuum franchise days, I knew I needed to fulfil my love of words and people and education. By the start of 2014 I felt old and tired, and honestly, I had been begging Alec for a break since 2010, so I was working damn hard at keeping myself afloat, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. I started two reflective journals to nourish myself. My Gratitude Journal app had me taking photos of things I was grateful for every day, and my iPhone Notes started to fill up with observations and insights that I used to encourage myself.

Alec was a picture of stress. He was drinking more and more and had put on a lot of weight and was starting to slacken at the gym. He was also on some pretty serious medication for anxiety depression and in February of that year he was prescribed some even more serious pain relief medication after he cracked his rib. You know, the cracks were starting to show right across the board.

The next events in my life changed everything I thought I knew. They caused me to look the meaning of my life square in the eye.

Making Dreams Come True

Making choices to advance is not about setting goals that redefine you, or trying to transform yourself into someone new. It’s not about pay-back or indebtedness. The you that is here today is perfect. You are here now, in this day, in this moment, this breath. You are the bridge that connects every thing that has happened before with everything that will come after. You don’t have to find a new you. But you can always find new ways to express that wonderful person inside.

I came to a turning point after my voice loss where I simply said “Enough is enough!” I was done with carrying hurt and resentment, and I accepted completely that taking forward steps was up to me. I was ready for progress. I worked hard at it, and fast. I applied all of my natural strengths as a carer, a worker, a writer and an organiser to the task. I pulled out all of the practical skills that I had learned over my life, and I combined these with the resources that I had at that time. As I accepted the value of this season, I made choices that allowed me to make the most of it all by using everything that I had. This showed me a conviction that I have to this day: we already have everything we need to find and follow the passions of our heart. We need nothing extra, from without or within. When we champion who we are, and we use what we have, more will inevitably come.

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We fitted our garage out to house overflowing stock of vacuum parts

Investing in the opportunity to build our business was the best idea I’d had in a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed rising to the opportunities that I could see with these new eyes of optimism I was developing. All the blogs I wrote about vacuum parts, and the product listings I created on our website in between my teaching work made Google very happy with us. Google started driving more and more traffic to our site. Which of course meant that we started seeing lots of online customers. And they wanted to buy lots of stuff for their vacuum cleaner. Things felt crazy for a while with our garage bursting with stock that had to be packaged up every evening for collection the next morning. There was lots of pocket money earned by our children in those days.

Now, a defining attribute of my relationship with Alec has always been our commitment to growth. We loved having a big life full of advancement, and we had gigantic dreams for the future. One of these ambitions was to move our garage warehouse operation to Melbourne, and to move there with it. We wanted to expand our business and social network, to pursue opportunities with importing, and to seek out some local city customers with deeper pockets than the clients we served in Wagga Wagga.

Fortunately, our surge of success online just happened to coincide with the availability of Alec’s oldest and best friend Harry. He had left our home town and moved to Melbourne several years earlier and needed work. A social dinner with his beautiful girlfriend ended with a handshake agreement that we would move our garage set up to Melbourne asap, and Harry would run our warehouse and order fulfilment from this new site full-time. Our plan was to renovate and sell our house and follow our stock to our new life as fast as we could.

Navigating our way through adversity is always made easier when we expect to see opportunity hidden inside. While the facts of our circumstance seem absolute, it is our outlook that determines our outcome. I had spent so long inside the darkness of depression after I lost my voice, but in taking steps out into the light I realised that the person that I was then had been the same all along, and that this person wanted change that she was perfectly capable of initiating.

Within our core lie the dreams of our heart – the secret imaginations that we have been hiding from for too long. Owning up to them, and daring to believe that we were wrong about our fears changes everything. This shift allows us to apply all of our natural strengths, all of our skills, and all of our resources to the task of making these dreams come true.

It Hurts Us To Withhold Love

To love someone in fullness and truth is to express the most powerful part of our Infinite Self, without restriction or limitation. Love is our greatest strength and our most pure source, so operating from this deep part of our core allows us to open the floodgates of our own pure power. Unlike other kinds of force though, this power is perfect, and can only bring goodness to ourselves and to the world. Expressing our love to those around is releases an energy that nourishes ourselves in ways that only love can, and also allows us to pass on that nourishing flow to the other people that we get to share our lives with. To deny this flow of love is to hold back an essential source of energy. Without sharing our love we can’t regenerate love, and instead of replenishment and fueling, we immediately begin to tax our core systems of wellness and survival. When we hold our love back, we block the very flow we need to live.

It was my daughter’s nineteenth birthday yesterday, and I experienced this truth in more fullness than I ever have before. The relationships we share with our children is often the easiest situation to demonstrate this kind of unconditional love. We have a connection with them that was born even before they were. Whether you are a mother or a father, the relationship you have with your child started before they took their first breath. This is as true for biological parents as it is for adoptive parents. To choose to raise a child trough their life journey is a decision that starts first with love.

Our love was always purposed to flow freely

Our love was always purposed to flow freely

Connecting with your child in this journey of nurturing and equipping is an honour. To work towards that final day where you release this child into their own adult journey is to activate this endless source of love every day. This is not always easy. Let’s be honest, even the most angelic of children have an uncanny knack of being able to press just the right button at just the right time to make things challenging. We all have those human moments. But these moments are set within a wider landscape of relationship and connection. There is more to the love you have for your children than could possibly be measured in any given moment. The love you have for your child is a love that will last longer than your lifetime for theirs. This love is infinite.

Withholding Love Comes From Negative Mindsets

To withhold this sort of love is to allow hurts, fears and other items of baggage from our past to block our true, deep love. Yesterday I shared beach walks, hamburgers, and chocolate birthday cake with my girl. In this space, I realised that to not love her openly and freely would hurt me. To hold my love back would require me to operate from a mindset that wasn’t open, compassionate, nurturing, patient, understanding, optimistic. To not act lovingly towards her would mean that I was drawing from a source within myself that is corrupt and spoiled. This source is not life. This type of source is something that needs to be deconstructed and reconciled. We can’t allow its effects to diminish our greatest power and source of all freedom – LOVE.

Looking at this issue from this perspective made this issue of love simple for me. If this is the sort of love that I can extend to my children, there is nothing that should stop me from extending this same kind of love to those around me. The dynamics of other relationships are certainly different from the ones I share with my children, but the source from which I love them is not. The way I demonstrate my love will be vastly different depending on the circumstance and nature of the relationship I share with each person, but my source of regard for them will not.

For me to operate in the fullness of my power, pursuing my purpose with a passion that has no limits, I need to access a genuine care, an unconditional regard for others. From this perspective I consider theirs, and I take up courses of action that bring benefit to all of us sharing the journey together. I certainly love myself by continuing to nurture myself and my need for love, and this sometimes means taking care of the depth and the nature of the connection that I share with others, but in all things, my heart is to love others as I love myself. In truth, respect, compassion, optimism, and unconditional acceptance. Every person has infinite value, and every person is worthy of love. By showing this love to others, I allow it to flow freely through my entire being, nourishing myself with its cleansing, healing flow.