Mirror Mirror On The Wall

It is always my pleasure to speak about Unstoppable Freedom. I love teaching people how to find and follow their passion, and to show them that they already have everything that they need to transform the landscape of their lives into something that reflects their innate purpose. When I share with my audiences, I remind them that my words will not make them free if they hear them, or even know them. Unstoppable Freedom only comes when we act.

Each of us want to connect. To love and be loved is our life’s highest calling. In our daily lives we are on a constant quest, searching for the place that we fit best. When we meet someone new, we conduct the obligatory “get-to-know-you chat.” We ask about them and tell stories about ourselves, and we begin to create a profile of who this new person is. What are they about? Where do they come from? What are they like? Where are they headed?

Now I am passionate in my love of humans and humanity. Give me all things ‘People’ and I am a happy camper. But even from this perspective, I do not necessarily see the human race through rose coloured glasses. Seriously, if you are going to really love humans, the only way to do this is warts and all. At the end of the day, our deep desire to connect may not always be about the high calling to selflessness, altruism and unconditional love. If we are brutally honest, we must admit that our own gain is one of our strongest motivators. Most, if not all, of our life choices are driven by the universal question: What’s in it for me?

This is true when we are connecting with people. Old friends, new friends, old enemies, new enemies. It’s all the same. Our relationships only work if we know exactly what we get out of what we put in. And what do we want more than anything else? To be valued. To be seen as significant. To be accepted and appreciated. When we connect with people, we are on the lookout for evidence that we matter. When we have those “get-to-know-you conversations”, we are really just doing yet another round of the same thing. We are investigating how they are like us. We are looking for ourselves.

Let’s see if you can see yourself in the highlights of my story. As you read through this list, why don’t you tick to see how many connection points we have? I want to spoil us both with the chance to find ourselves in our connection:

  • Leader: Oldest child in a large dependant family
  • Adventurer: Have always travelled and moved house a lot
  • Pioneer: Left home at a young vulnerable age
  • Conqueror: Terrified and overwhelmed teen mum
  • Battler: Divorced single mum of two fighting the odds
  • Romantic: Married again with the starry-eyed hope of having it all
  • Driver: Ambitious business owner pushing forward into growth
  • Teacher: Educator of people of all ages
  • Widow: Lost husband at thirty-seven to face a new world
  • Mother:  With two adult children now leaving the nest
  • Lover: Enjoying the delights of new love in rich new ways
  • Author: Writing blogs, stories, books, talks
  • Sharer: Of love and connection with those close to me
  • Dreamer: Optimistic about possibilities always. My future is bright because my outlook makes it so

As you read my highlights, you are looking for your own. Think back to the last time you watched a movie, read a book, chatted with a friend, worked on a project … in everything we look for ourselves. We search for our person. We endlessly seek acknowledgement of our identity.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?

Professional speaker melbourne

The mirror reflects only what we are ready to see

The wistful romance of this fairy tale question resonates in all of us, because we have all asked ourselves a version of this question. We all want to be certain that we are beautiful, worthy, successful, accepted, happy. Too often, we act like the Queen who asked that question of the Mirror. We become insecure and threatened by those around us, as if the beauty of others has any impact at all on our own. She looked into a place that should have reflected her own perfect image. In reality, as the story goes, she was truly beautiful. But something went wrong … the way she saw her own beauty made it not enough. She was vain, but not content with who she actually was. She wasn’t satisfied with her beauty, so the reflection she saw in the mirror was marred by her own doubts, fear, insecurities, hurts, offence, worries.

I wonder about that day when the mirror told the Queen that it was Snow White who was the most beautiful … was this the day that the Queen’s downtrodden view of herself finally got the better of her? The mirror couldn’t tell the Queen that she was the fairest of them all, because the reflection of a mirror can only show us what we are able to see. The Queen’s shortcomings allowed her to believe that her own beauty was not enough. So the mirror couldn’t tell her any different.

We know that the Queen’s corrupted outlook was toxic. Her distorted view sent her on a quest for answers where they could never be found. Instead of seeing her own beauty, the Queen sought to destroy it in others. She was convinced that beauty must be somewhere ‘out there’. Hidden in the outside world. In someone else. And she hated that. The Queen shows us perfectly how not to be free.  In three easy steps she created her own demise:

  1. Refuse to be satisfied by your own beauty
  2. Compare yourself with others
  3. Seek to destroy the beauty in others, because you can’t see it in yourself

I wonder if Snow White really was the fairest of them all? Or was she simply the one who innocently accepted her own beauty, without question, shame or guilt. The mirror could tell the story of Snow White’s beauty, simply because Snow White accepted this as being true.

This metaphor of the mirror speaks volumes about our own quest for freedom. We search for ourselves because we all need to be truly free. To be free to love and be loved is our highest calling. Deep inside every one of us is the voice that directs us towards the fullest expression of our potential. To ensure that we arrive at this place of freedom, we must ensure that we have our eyes on what is real. We need to look only into our own perfect reflection. We must rid ourselves of the lenses that blind us and contort what we see. We must remove doubt to reveal our optimism. Rid ourselves of hurt to enjoy wholeness. Replace shame with confidence. Apathy with investment. Indifference with enthusiasm.  Hopelessness with hope. Confusion with clarity. We must boldly say, “No more!”

Loss Leaders

For all of us who have been in businesses, the loss leader is a valuable part of the retail industry. For those consumers who are stark raving mad for screaming ads that shout the latest super cheap sales that have you storming your local Westfield in droves, the loss leader is every dream come true. A vacuum cleaner for $49? YES! A pair of the latest shoes from your favourite brand for $29? YES PLEASE! The DVD box set of Gilmore Girls for $39 to celebrate their new season release? I AM IN!!

Melbourne based professional speaker

The loss leader only brings benefit when it is transformed into something more profitable.

The loss leader gets us going. It sets our heart racing for the retail thrill, our feet running to the local outlet, and our credit cards tap, tap, tapping our way to instant gratification. The loss leader demands fast attention and instant action. It requires a snap, impulse decision where the time that lapses between the advertisement and the purchase is so lightning fast that it could only be seen in the grainy pixels of the security footage in slow-mo.

If the loss leader does its job properly, we end up buying the advertised product with the speed of a thousand gazelles. But that is not all. On the way to the must-have product we see other items. Then, as we make our way to the retail altar also known as the counter, we see more. And then we see more again as we stand in line behind five other comrades whose mouths are watering just a tiny bit more than ours. Shiny items. New items. Items that are bigger and better and even more desirable than the insane bargain we already have in our hot little hands. And we imagine owning that extra item too. And we picture ourselves picking it up and giving it a home at our home. And we calculate the saving we have made on the loss leader product. And we justify the additional purchase. And with that, the deed is done. The loss leader purchase is extended. It is transformed into an investment that we were simply destined to have. We are convinced in our hearts that the loss leader brought us to the pathway that was always meant to be.

The loss leader only works for the business owner because it transforms the profit lost in that first sale into profit gained from the additional items we buy. if the business was only to sell the loss leader, without turning it into something of worth, the business would not last very long. Sustaining the losses from the sale of the loss leader can only be done for so long. If the loss is not turned into profit, the business would eventually fold.

I hope the metaphor is already emerging for you here. Losses offer no profit or gain in themselves. By definition, they leave us empty handed. They bring us nothing. They only detract from our lives. Losses hurt. They cost us something real, tangible, important. Sometimes that price is high. Losses can be expensive. The price can be exorbitant. Operating only in the loss without finding a way to make it profitable is simply unsustainable.

I like to think of the losses in my life as functioning like a loss leader. On their own they are costly. They make us pay a price in our time, our emotions, our relationships, our career, our health, sometimes even our sanity. In themselves, losses make our life unsustainable. If all we had was the loss, we would not be able to continue. If we stopped the process of our life at the loss leader, we would all have to shut up shop.

But the direct cost of the loss never reflects its greater purpose, and certainly doesn’t highlight its worth. The loss leader works when it is used as the first part of a bigger strategy. It is only when the loss initiates a sequence of attracting profit that its full value is realised. The loss opens opportunities for gain that could not come any other way. Engaging in the loss, feeling its pain, embracing the price tag allows us to accept that it is essential to us. This is the approach we can adopt to maximise the benefits of any loss in our lives.

I have put this outlook to work for me through countless seasons of loss over my life. On the days where I feel the sting of the loss, I remind myself that I will find a way to strategically transform the loss to bring gain. When the price of the loss pinches me hard, I encourage myself that this cost can become an investment into a different outcome. In this way, I reframe my concept of loss and see it as an opportunity to invest into a profitable future that I create. I am convinced that the loss actually gives us the chance to make unique, strategic, deliberate gains. The benefits of the loss come when we see it as the fist step in a bigger, more positive sequence.

And somewhere amidst this process of transforming loss into gain, I have found that the real magic happens … In reframing my perspective on life, I reframe my concept of myself. I see myself as the loss leader, because I am the one who leads the loss with clarity of purpose and precision focus. I am the captain of the ship and the driver of my destiny. I am the one who transforms every adversity into gain. I am the strategic leader of the loss, and my choices turn the price of the loss into an investment into gain.

I am not alone in this. Countless inspirational heroes across cultures and throughout time show us again and again that adversity can lead to triumph. Hardship can give rise to success. The battle can end in victory. So Loss Leaders, onward and upward! The investment will return.

Persist.

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.

img_7686img_7686

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.

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.

I’M MOVING!!! :D

Over the next few weeks access to my blog may be interrupted as I move data across to my new website: www.kerryannenelson.com

I’m not there yet, but the countdown is on. I will keep you posted.

Then bad news is, you might not find me here when you come to check in.

But the good news is that my new website will have all of the usual stories that you know and love, plus loads more content, and exciting features, and projects that I am working on for 2017. So hang in there with me, and please look me up when the time comes that I am no longer here. I love being friends, and there is so much more of the story to share. We have only just begun!

img_8100

 

Finding The Voice Of My Infinite Self

To know that we are valuable is vital to the health of our very substance. As social creatures with a heart that beats for compassion, relationship and significance, each one of us can be truly fulfilled only if we know that we have made a difference. Our Infinite Self is completely realised only in service of those around us, through the establishment of a legacy that allows our effects in the world to outlast our physical bodies. We need to know that our days counted for something bigger than us, and that in finding our Purpose, we have found a way to make some one else’s life better. We want the healing refreshment of Passion for outward service.

P1000158

Daily prayer and meditation helped remind me what I was like on the inside, and this person became my offering to the world

It was by enlarging my capacity for service that I was eventually able to grow beyond my voice strain injury, but this really was no walk in the park. My treatment involved over six months of voiceless silence, which crushed me. Even as the treatment progressed and permitted an hour of talking each day, this didn’t restore my classroom, or my singing, or my time with friends and family. I had been told that I would sing and work again only if I was dedicated to the treatment that silenced everything I loved. Even if this therapy worked, I faced more than one whole year of a life of isolation. I was lost clinging to the remnants of a life that could no longer exist.

I responded poorly. My first reaction of anger was quickly followed by despair and hopelessness. I knew that a full year was too long, and this surrender ushered in a dark depression. I cried most days. The deep pain of losing everything swallowed me whole. My days started with unbearable misery, so even the discomfort of normal feelings were unbearable. Dizzy vagueness was accompanied by stomach cramps, back pain, and butterflies that made me feel sick. I turned to alcohol to drown the tiredness of my daily grieving, and ate myself into obesity in an attempt to avoid the strain that hunger brought.

But this was just the start. After about six months I started to experience panic attacks and anxiety that sent my head into a spin and made my throat constrict till it hurt. In working through my counselling, my psychologist explained to me that I had developed an adjustment disorder. At that point, I simply couldn’t find a way to accommodate this new life of silence. I took a few months to absorb this diagnosis, but then I realised that my recovery required me to learn how to be an expert in psychological flexibility. My therapist encouraged me: “It’s hard, but it’s not too hard.” She was right.

What a wonderful opportunity! In taking up this challenge, I came to love myself in entirely new ways, because I started looking for the person inside me again. I embarked on a life changing quest to reconnect with myself as an Infinite person who needed the gift of a new voice. In this search I remembered I am kind, generous, motivated, intelligent, funny, enthusiastic, energetic, ambitious, outgoing, sensitive, thoughtful, compassionate, persistent. I realised that I am a unique person who loves words and learning and talking and reading and writing. I live to serve my family, and to connect in honest transparency with others. I am driven by goals that put my strengths to work to set me free.

Remembering this person set me on a pathway to recovery where I started to find new ways of demonstrating who I always was. I didn’t need a voice to write to my people with emails and texts and social media posts, to build my business with my husband, to study psychology and learn again, and to work out and lose weight. As my confidence and happiness started to return, so did my voice, and so did opportunities to teach. At first I taught in a small group homework centre, then at university with a microphone and adult students who quietly managed their own behaviour, and then in a special behaviour school with one single student who needed all of my softly spoken attention. In retrospect, this disorder was one of my life’s most disguised blessings, because it taught me how to pursue fulfilment with real world optimism, purpose-driven flexibility, and identity-driven passion. It taught me that the cliche of ‘being true to yourself’ can only be real if we acknowledge that we always have strengths and abilities that can be used to express ourselves in ways that serve others.

In this 18 month journey of recovery I learned that all roads lead to Rome, where Rome is my unchanging identity, and all of the roads are the twists and turns of life’s journey. In getting back there, I figured out exactly what my ‘Rome’ was made of, and I realised that psychological flexibility allows my unchanging core self to adjust to any circumstance that life throws at me. The road you take really doesn’t matter, as long as it is headed to Rome.

Zig Ziglar talks about the difference between long term happiness and short term pleasure. We  all want to experience the profound happiness that comes from serving others because this lasts longer than the burst of short term pleasure that comes from seeking selfish, short term gain. We all can experience this if we combine a profound knowledge of ourselves with a defining commitment to serve others with everything we’ve got.