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.

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