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3 MIN READ

On this day three years ago, I wrote this post in Facebook:

I’m ready. It’s time.
I have had an overwhelming rush of love and support from dear, dear friends and family, but for those who don’t know, and those who are waiting for my words, I have terrible news. On Wednesday morning my dearest husband Alec step in father of my children Zachery and Isabelle, best friend, love of my life, partner in everything, maker of the finest food and pourer of wine, provider of all good things in my life, sweetest lover, family festival coordinator, chief spoiling officer, master technician and fixer of all buttoned things, fanatical one-man cheer squad of mine, boundary pusher and pathological optimist, ambitious dream maker and sharer, king of emotional adjustment and accommodator of difference, agent of grounding and reality checker, table for two booker, couch companion, avoider of bathroom cleaning but still all round super hero passed away. There are no words which adequately describe this gutting sense of loss, this hideous darkness, this engulfing lonely hole, this terror, this exhaustion. I am devastated beyond expression. My life changed forever when he joined it, and now I face new changes on his departure. I have had a marriage experience many only dream of, built on pure, raw, honest tenacity to push through every valley and dance on every mountain simply because sharing it all together was our deepest passion and life anchoring commitment. His love for me was his defining attribute, unfailing and never ending. To say he will be missed is an absurd understatement, yet better words escape me. I join Zac in feeling lost, I have never been here before, and also join Isabelle in daring to believe “We can do it!”
Please pray for us. Your love and support is our strength for now, and will be a foundation we need to ground the insanity we face. And please remember us in the coming weeks and months as we embark on learning a new life we never dreamed we would have to learn. We are tearfully figuring out how to hold on and let go at the same time. Each moment brings a new wave to deal with
And most importantly, tell your loved ones just how much you love them every single day. You can never express too much love, in words and in actions, because I have been hit like a slap in the face, it’s true, you never know how long you really have. In a blink …
xxx

 

Melbourne based speaker

The view from our old home in Research as the sun set on the first day without Alec

This morning I read that post, and the tears trickled down my face as I relived those few days of shock.

This day three years ago really was a big one. I remember writing that post very clearly. Through copious tears and with my mind racing. It was bizarre to have “memories” of Alec flooding my mind, because he had only been there beside me three days prior. I had to remind myself that he wasn’t there any more. Repeatedly. I had to learn how to have a picture of myself and my life that didn’t have him in it.

I am comforted to this day by the knowledge that love never dies. On reading this now though, I remember the feeling of his absence. Foreign. Strange. Brutal. Aggressive. Terrifying.

I have never known a sadness that washed me so completely, or a grief like this that gutted me to my core. Oh my god it was horrible. Nauseating. Dizzying. Isolating. Deafening.

But as time has passed, I have taught myself a few new ways of seeing things. Some additional layers of perspective. Nothing will stop this loss from being so so sad and horrendously tragic, but there is more. Because I lived. I kept going. The next day, and the next and the next. New seasons. New chapters. I grew.

To have lived through such a shock is the proof I need now that I can make it through anything. I know I am not the only widow in the world, and that other people have gone through more tragic circumstances. But I am not them. Nor are they me. So I don’t compare. I am simply filled with wide eyed amazement and gratitude at the experiences I have had, lessons I have learned, and the way things have turned out.

My life still stuns me to this day. It is all just so completely mind blowing. It has changed me forever to learn that light can be found through darkness. Purpose can be found through loss. Love can be found through heartbreak. And passion can be found through adversity.

And now, today … we live. We love. We bring honour to the things we have learned

 

Motivated By Guilt?

3 MIN READ

This afternoon I did something I never do. I bailed on an event. I wasn’t speaking at the event (to bail on a speaking gig is unimaginable). I was a paying attendee at a one day conference for young entrepreneurs who want to maximise their opportunities for success. Sounds like me, right? So I went. And by 4:00pm I’d had enough.

The day started out perfectly. Gary Vaynerchuk live via hologram! Cool or what? It was one of the best talks I’ve ever heard. Love Love Loved every bit of it!

But … this was followed by a speaker who pushed her high end finance program from a platform of fear. She sold her services from the stage, inviting every one to ask themselves one question: “Would your assets be safe if the worst case scenario actually happened to you?”

It was an interesting talk, but as she steered us around the corner from engaged to fearful, I felt a little twinge of resistance flicker in my belly. I watched a line of people file to the back to sign away their thousands of dollars. They wanted to buy themselves out of fear and into a feeling of safety. And I was concerned.

Then the next speaker brought their highly entertaining presentation to us, proudly boasting how he could make $20K in a single trade on the stock market. It was a thrilling talk, with the glitz and glamour of high finances, sharp shooters and fast tracks drawing us all in. And then he too went on to hard sell his 12 month program with the promise that he would teach you how to turn your big bucks into even bigger bucks. He sold his wares by replacing your insecurity with his confidence. He would lead his new clients away from being played by the system, to a point where they could play that system themselves for their own gain.

The day went on. We wrote down some inspiring quotes. We ate overpriced packaged food. We sat in uncomfortable chairs. We tried hard to remain positive about the day’s program. But we hit a wall.

The last straw for us was in the closing tactics of the last speaker. His knowledge of how to make money through buying and selling gold and silver was truly jaw dropping. Again, his talk had an air of ‘The Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous’. He too brought a hard nosed sales pitch that would put any door to door vacuum cleaner salesman to shame. He solved the audience’s problem of poverty with fast, easy riches. He literally has three silver thrones and one made of gold. This man has the Midas touch.

The pitch didn’t end with the lucky winner of the discounted offer, or the people who remained standing only if they were committed to the program. This pitch went hard core evangelist. He actually set a timer to create urgency. Attendees had only ten minutes to rush to the back of the room, and sign away tens of thousands of dollars so that they too could learn how to live this glittering gold and silver lifestyle. And those who didn’t? Well they were labelled as those who lacked commitment. Who didn’t take action. Fence sitters. Procrastinators. They … no … WE … we were found guilty of being sub-standard entrepreneurs.

Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

With clarity you walk boldly through life’s path, confident that every step enlivens your mission.

We left.

And in the car we had a rigorous discussion about the importance of establishing crystal clear insight into your identity, your mission, and your plan.

Identity: When you know who you are, and you like that person, you stand tall, and you need nothing to validate you or your choices. You don’t need to hold hands with someone to make you feel important or powerful. You already know you are.

Mission: When you are set on your purpose, nothing can deviate you from this, because it is a passion that drives you through every single day. You don’t need to follow the lead of any wolf in sheep’s clothing, regardless of how influential or successful they might seem. Because you already know where you are headed.

Plan: When you have established a strategic plan that steps you through, you activate your mission with daily progress. It is impossible to steer you off your course. You know that all roads lead to Rome, even if they are bumpy or take sharp unexpected turns. You find fulfilment and opportunity in every step of the journey.

Clarity trumps fear, confusion, guilt, insecurity, and distraction. Only then will you be truly free of the risk of others throwing you off course. To have this clarity in these three pillars of your life is to have a freedom that simply can’t be stopped.

The Drama Queen Needs Her Cameo

4 MIN READ

We have all experienced the moment where we come face to face with our inner Drama Queen. When her warped perspective meets her powerful expression there is little we can do to stop her. She shines in all her glory. She is like a runaway train, gaining speed with every hyperbole, building force with every gesture, gathering spectators with every scandalous embellishment. She is compelling. She is passionate. She is unleashed and she is fiery.

Melbourne speaker

Our Drama Queen can show us how we really feel

It is rare to encounter our Drama Queen when things are ok. Typically, she comes out when there is a problem. For me, she emerges in my tiredness, my stress, my moments of pressure. She can also appear when we are jealous, insecure, impatient, afraid, hurt or offended. She rises on the wings of our weaknesses and is fuelled by the reward of emotional release. She is the one inside all of us who loves to vent. To spread the news far and wide. To raise the eye brows of onlookers, and elicit oooohs and aaaaaahs from the crowd. She loves to receive a hug of support, a vote of confidence, words of supportive pity, the of adoration of her audience.

All the Drama Queen wants is her stage. She loves nothing more than to capture the attention of the crowd. Then she has them mesmerised, captivated, as she puts on yet another stellar performance. She will hold any one and every one, as tightly as she can, for as long as she can. Whenever our inner Drama Queen rears her head she is a force to be reckoned with.

It would be easy to admonish that Queen, to shout her down with rotten tomatoes being thrown from the front rows. At the height of her show, she is abhorrent. She is self-seeking, indulgent, immature, and unbalanced. She has little regard for her fellow cast members in life. Her only concern is to satisfy her impulsive, fleeting whims with the accolades of others.

I have heard many a speaker, preacher, therapist and coach advise us to do away with the Drama Queen, because she has the potential to destroy us and everything we hold dear. But I think there is more to it.

In 2005 I had the privilege of working in a Steiner school as part of my primary teacher training. This was an experience unlike any other, and one that I will treasure until the day I die. The children there had lots in common with children elsewhere. They laughed, played, learned like other kids. They played up and misbehaved like other kids too. But overall they were happier, and generally more content. When things went awry, it seemed that they were able to get back on track more quickly than many of the other children I knew, and with less fuss.

The difference was not in their behaviour or their needs, but rather the response they received when they acted out. Instead of labelling the child, or even the behaviour, as ‘bad’, or ‘naughty’, or ‘requiring punishment’, it was assumed the child simply had a need that was not being met. The approach taken by teachers and other caretakers was built on the belief that the child was inherently good, that they had an innate ability to learn and grow, and a core desire to function successfully in their society. Most of all, it was understood that each child needed support and nurturing to guide them through their journey towards a free and powerful adulthood. The adults in the school community helped the students by providing them with emotional support, sharing words of wisdom, and by allowing safe but authentic, real-life consequences to result from their undesirable behaviour. Steiner schooling is described as “educating towards freedom.” Over time, these beautiful Steiner students learn how to identify and nurture their own emotional needs, which empowers them to define, express and enlarge their identity with loving, respectful liberty.

If we became more attuned to our inner selves, we might just realise that when our Drama Queen is acting out, there might be more to it than bad behaviour worthy or punishment or rebuke. We don’t need to be so harsh on ourselves. What if we started assuming that the behaviours we demonstrate in our worst moments are not because we are bad people, but they actually show us we have needs that have not been met yet? What if we treated ourselves with compassion, nurturing, and forgiveness when we act out? What if we started learning how to identify and nurture our own emotional needs? This is how we become empowered to define, express and enlarge our own identity with loving, respectful liberty.

We also don’t need to let that Drama Queen take over. Our inner Drama Queen must always be managed. She certainly can be destructive, and if you let her, she will steal the show. The short term pleasure that she brings might feel like freedom. However, when this fleeting feeling has passed, we realise that the Drama Queen is a part of ourselves that has no long term investment into our best interests.

There is a balancing act to perform here, because the Drama Queen needs to be handled with caution, but she should not be written out of the show altogether. She does have value. If we write her a cameo spot amidst the scenes of our life, we will be able to receive the messages she has for us. On our journey towards freedom we need to be able to perceive the unmet needs that motivate our worst moments. Our Drama Queen can show us the hurts that create pain, the insecurities that undermine love, the fears that prevent investment, the weaknesses that cause us to buckle. When our inner Drama Queen has the spotlight, we can see the barriers to our liberty. The performance of the Drama Queen itself is not liberty, but if we take care of her, and give her that cameo moment in the sun, she can illuminate wide open pathways to freedom that come from healing, forgiveness, acceptance and self-love.

Jelly Belly of Power

4 MIN READ

For as long as I can remember I have been self-conscious about my belly. I am a thick waisted girl whose broad shoulders and solid frame carries me through big days of hard work and tough challenges. On my good days, my physique is best described as athletic, but if I have had a busy few months, or life has seen me fall off the horse of self-care for the umpteenth time, I can get to feeling chunky and heavy set. I was like this even as a teenager. I remember choosing bathing costumes to try to do something with my body that I felt was way out of proportion. My flat chested torso lacked any real waist and was held up by the solid thighs of legs that seem to develop muscle quicker than you can say World Wide Wrestling Federation.

From Bad To Worse

Things on the tummy front really didn’t improve with the arrival of my first child, and then they went from bad to worse after the birth of my second child. My little pot belly stomach became a crinkled scramble of stretch marks that looked like a scrunched up old chip packet. A little while after the birth of my son Zac, I did notice that some form returned to my skin, but the improvement was minimal and was then smashed to smithereens after the birth of my daughter Isabelle. Over the years I have found that nothing changes the condition of my skin. No amount of moisturising, working out, skin treatments, weight loss, or even weight gain 😉 will change the fact that the fibres of my skin were stretched beyond repair when I carried my two beauties. The clock will not be turned back on this one. I will not pass go and I will not collect $200. The judge’s decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

melbourne speaker

Comfy in our own skin is freedom unlike any other

For years it was this way. It was bad when I was my regular weight, but even worse through the years that I was overweight. As you can imagine, I was self-conscious in countless social situations, like swimming, or going out to restaurants, or trying on new clothes. But even worse than this, was that I was embarrassed around my husband. Now, Alec loved my belly and never once suggested otherwise. But I struggled to be confident and to be relaxed with him. I barely let him touch my tummy, and I was instantly ticklish when he did.

Hiding Away My Imperfections

My response to every part of this life controlling fear was to hold my tummy in. Yes, I would try to wear clothes that were flattering to my body shape, and yes, I tried to be diligent with my workouts, and yes, I tried to stay fit and healthy. But the strategy that I employed every single day without fail was to suck in my belly to try to hold it tight and prevent it from showing. I tried to hide the bulge of my pot belly, and tried to make sure that the loose skin didn’t wobble.

More often than not, when I went out, I literally did this till it hurt. I would hold myself upright until my back ached. I would hold my shoulders back until my neck burned. I would suck my tummy in until my ribs screamed in pain. It was hard work, and it made going out just horrible. Getting home was like letting air out of a balloon (minus the uncontrollable zipping all around the room when you let that balloon go 😀 ).

The loss of my husband in May 2014 changed a lot of things in my life. Some of these changes were instant, while others have evolved from that starting point. One of the change journeys I have followed since this gutting loss has been in the way I see myself. One of my first thoughts as I walked in to my kitchen to find he had passed away, was simple: “How am I going to live?”

Our Power Is Constructed In Our Choices

I knew in that instant that everything that happened after that point would be determined by my choices. I had a strange, almost surreal awareness of my own power, and of the importance the steps I would take. This realisation underlined just how vital it was for me to take care of myself. I no longer had Alec to rely on, defer to, or make excuses with. The buck stopped with me.

From the very next day I continued to do my yoga and I made sure that even if I had no appetite, I would eat a morsel of something healthy to nourish myself. Maintaining my personal wellness became my top priority. I was my first resource. As a result, I lost weight. Even after the shock subsided, my healthy habits continued, because they had started from a place of self-love. I landed myself right in the middle of my healthy BMI.

But this reflection is not about my weight loss…

At the start of this year, 2017, I noticed that this old habit of sucking my tummy in was still hanging around. Even though I am thinner than I have been in over a decade, the mindset of being embarrassed about my tummy lingered. Even though I am more confident, and free in myself than I have ever been before, still this mental habit persisted.  Yes, my skin is still crumpled like a chip packet, and yes my pot belly still bulges, and yes, my skin is still so loose that it wobbles. But I am free…

At the start of this year I decided to change my behaviour to align with my freedom. I have chosen that this year will be the first year that I don’t suck my tummy in any more. I have chosen to replace the self-talk of self-consciousness with the self-talk of freedom. I am free of embarrassment, shyness, shame. I am free of being concerned with the judgement or opinion of others. I am free to accept who I am and how I am. My body tells the story of giving birth to the two greatest treasures of my life. This is not something to hide away from the world. I will no longer gloss over my body shape or try to pretend that I am something I am not.

And with this, I am even more free than I was before … Unstoppable!

My Bracelet of Love

5 MIN READ

About ten years ago I bought my late husband Alec a sterling silver bracelet. I can’t remember if this gift was for his birthday or Christmas or some other special day, but I do know that I loved buying it for him. One of Alec’s strongest love languages was gift giving, which meant that he received and expressed love through the giving of quality, high value gifts. Alec loved fine things. To buy him a cheap item of jewellery or cologne or other gift would be appreciated, but not treasured. Buying him a bracelet that he wore with pride showed me that he truly loved it. I had spent as much money as I could on the bracelet. He realised that as soon as he opened it, and he savoured the gesture.

He wore the bracelet literally every single day. It didn’t matter what we were doing, or how messy it was, he never took the bracelet off. This meant that the bracelet hung from his wrist when we went to fancy restaurants, attended social events, when we did the groceries, or when we sat down to watch television at home in the evenings. It also meant that it stayed on even when he was repairing vacuum cleaners, or doing odd jobs around our house. It even meant that the bracelet was worn throughout the duration of our home renovation, where it dangled into paint pots, scraped through sanding machines, and slopped through tiling grout.

After a few years the bracelet was a mess. At first I had been so thrilled that Alec loved the gift so much that he never took it off, but as the bracelet became damaged I became annoyed that Alec wasn’t taking better care of it. I remember suggesting that he should remove it when he was doing rough work, but he insisted on wearing it. What could I do? I watched the bracelet being progressively ruined, and I tried to let it go. I reminded myself that I had given the gift to Alec so it did not belong to me. How he treated the bracelet, and the results of this treatment had nothing to do with me.

This was all well and good until the clasp on the bracelet became so stiff and warped that it no longer closed, meaning that Alec couldn’t wear it any more. He asked me to take the bracelet for repair. This made me really annoyed, because I had been working so hard to release the ownership of the bracelet to Alec, and to not be offended that he was slowly wrecking the gift that I had given him. I resisted taking the bracelet for months and months because of this offence, but finally I yielded. It was embarrassing to show up at the jewellery shop with a bracelet that looked more like a string of aluminium can ring tabs than the piece of fine jewellery that I had purchased only a few years ago. It was even more humiliating to have the perfectly presented woman behind the counter raise her eyebrows at me as she described the state of the bracelet to me. I blushed and didn’t know where to look or what to say. I knew better than anyone else that the scratches and chips and build up of grout in the joints of the bracelet were horrible.

As she mustered up her most patronising version of customer service, this glamorous woman told me that the bracelet was no longer worth the cost of the repairs it would take to restore it to a modest version of how it used to be. I nodded my understanding, thanked her for helping me, and bundled up the bracelet into the small yellow envelope that she gave me. I went home and to my great shame and regret now, I gave Alec a good old fashioned “I-told-you-so” speech. I did not hold back. I let him have all of my hurts and offences as I berated him about the lack of care he had taken with my gift.

My gift.

Yes … that’s right. I was hurt because over all of these years, that bracelet felt like something that was mine. I had a sense of ownership that I should never have had, and created an offence that I should never have experienced.

This offence went on literally for years. I knew Alec wanted me to replace the bracelet with another one, because he mentioned it before every Father’s Day, birthday, and Christmas. And every year the offence smouldered inside me, like an evil cauldron of boiling hot poison bubbling away the love of our marriage. Every year I saw that Alec wanted a new bracelet, and every year my heart responded with “Why should I? You wrecked the last one I gave you.”

This is a shameful blog to write, because you can see how truly horrible I was. The bad news is that if we let offence build up like this, each one of us run the risk of corrupting the love we have for those closest to us. My self-righteous hurt prevented my from loving Alec with openness and liberty. It stifled my love and implanted a spur of withholding into our most intimate connection.

But the good news is that there is another way. I held onto that hurt until I couldn’t bear it any longer. And then, one day, I tripped over that little yellow envelope as I was cleaning out my sock draw. By that time we had moved to Melbourne and we were both working together full-time to build our vacuum parts website. We had both grown so much over those years. Our life had changed dramatically, and our investment into our shared journey had never been deeper. That broken old bracelet inside that envelope didn’t fit the picture of our life or our love any more. I decided to make things right.

Professional Melbourne Speaker

When we hold on to offences we mar the capacity of our Infinite Self to give and receive love without limits

That Christmas I bought Alec a 9 carat gold version of that same bracelet. His face beamed as he opened the green velvet box and then he looked at me with eyes of love. With great relief I was able to say sorry that I hadn’t bought it sooner. He put it on straight away, and I was thrilled, but this time, my heart was filled with happiness for him only. That night, we had a massive discussion about the bracelet which redeemed me from the years that had been marred by my selfish resentment.

Alec wore the bracelet most of the time, but I noticed that it came off when he was doing messy jobs. I was grateful, but in my heart I had changed. I wasn’t holding on to this bracelet like I did the last one. This bracelet was truly Alec’s. I had given it freely, which released me to loving him freely. There were no bumpy, glitchy bits of selfishness that had previously corrupted my ability to give and receive love.

That Christmas was in 2014, and only five short months later, I came home to find Alec dead in our kitchen. I cannot emphasise strongly enough how grateful I am at the fortuitous timing of repairing this part of our relationship. Of course, the reality is that if I hadn’t changed my attitude and worked through this offence I would have carried it around unresolved for the rest of my life. Now, I wear this bracelet every day, to remind me to never withhold love. This bracelet is a tribute to the infinite capacity that we all have for love, when we step outside of our pride and freely open the doors of our heart.

Balance

5 MIN READ

Each year I choose a word that will help me maintain my focus and direction for the entire year. Last year my word was Charge. This worked really well for that season. In December 2015 I sold the business I had previously shared with my late husband. This meant that hitting the ground running in 2016 was vital if I was to build momentum for my new thing. Under the motivating banner of the word Charge, I have worked relentlessly throughout 2016. I have completed my year of professional speaker training, published my first book, had this website built and continued to populate it with loads of content, launched my iTunes podcast called The Happy Widow, taken on my first handful of coaching clients, and presented at even more speaking engagements. I have also started the endless journey of building my social media profiles, and I am amazed at how many new friends I have made throughout the year in those spaces. The internet is the city that never sleeps.

All of this has been wonderful, and I am thoroughly proud of myself. But if you look back through that introductory paragraph, you will see that I worked relentlessly, but not tirelessly. To be completely honest, by December last year, I felt like that last leg was only possible if I was willing to crawl over the line. Launching myself into my new work in 2016 was important for me for a lot of personal, professional, and financial reasons. Even now as I reflect on how I approached last year I can’t see how I could or even would have done things differently. But boy oh boy, I really couldn’t repeat that massive effort.

I see very little point in regret, even if I have made a terrible blunder. Regret steals our confidence, undermines our ability to learn, and prevents us from loving ourselves as we really are. I don’t need to feel the self-loathing emotion of regret to be genuinely sorry if I have made an error. I can choose to change my pathway without getting too hung up over the steps I have previously taken. At best, regret is a waste of energy and headspace, but at worst it is destructive and turns our opportunities for growth as humans into a disastrous trap.

I certainly feel no regret about how I invested my time and energy last year. I am a big believer in the positive effects of a burst of energy and surge of investment. But I know without a doubt that this effort was unsustainable. By the end of the year I worked hard to finish what I started with all sorts of projects. I nearly got there. There are still jobs hanging around that didn’t get done, but I know that I need to change tack if I am going to continue to catch the winds of freedom in my sails.

Melbourne Professional Speaker

Each year I save my word for the year as the home screen on my phone

This year, my word is Balance. If I have learned anything from last year it is to prioritise a wholistic approach. Things can’t remain strong if they are built in a lopsided way. If you’ve ever played Jenga or even pick up sticks you’ll know that when the pieces aren’t supported, they will tumble down. To be unstoppably free from the risk of this collapse, we simply must take a broader approach. We must harmonise all of the needs in our lives, and focus on tending to all of them with diligent consistency, calm confidence, and gentle nurturing. For us to maintain growth in all of the areas of our lives, we must attend to that growth. Make it our focus. Invest in it.

I had a thought about balance last year that has stuck with me. I have a mild scoliosis in my back which throws the mechanics of my body out. When I walk, run, sit, lay down, stand up, my body does things in an ever so slightly twisted way. It was barely noticeable when I was younger, but at 41, my body speaks more freely to me now and lets me know what it needs. Years of operating this crooked body and compensating for the curve in my spine have seen some muscles become super strong while others have been left quite weak. I didn’t notice this until my physio had my doing single leg squats, hops, arm raises and hamstring curls. I was stunned.

I teetered and trembled my way through half of the physio’s tasks. I struggled to stay upright and a few times I toppled and stumbled my way back to standing straight and tall. My right leg wasn’t pulling its weight, and neither was my right shoulder. They made my body crumple like an aluminium can. It seems that my left side has been doing all of the heavy lifting over the years, with the right side taking a free ride. The work of keeping me up and running has largely been done by only one side of my body. To ignore this problem would be to invite injury and pain which will only worsen over the years to come. This is not desirable for anyone, but as an active, highly motivated person, this simply will not do.

My body had no regard for my intentions or my efforts. It could only perform to its capability at that moment. Years of avoiding the use of the weaker side, and unthinkingly finding ways around the scoliosis had created a type of atrophy. It had left me weak in the areas I hadn’t used or attended to. It thrown me out of balance, and left me vulnerable to falling down. Are you getting the picture here? Can you see areas of your life that may have been left unattended just a little to long?

As I say goodbye to 2016 and throw my arms open wide to the year ahead, I will apply what I have learned. This experience paints the perfect picture of what we need to understand to be free:

Balance comes from strength.

This is not just strength in a few select areas. Power doesn’t come from surging forward in growth in our favourite areas, or the ones that come easily to us. We are only truly free from the risk of collapse if we have a well rounded strength across all of the pillars in our life. My physio explained that managing the health of my back and my joints means developing strength in my core. She gave me exercises that work the muscles further inside and around the joint. These movements aren’t like the glamorous Hollywood ones. They don’t only work the superficial muscles that every one else can see. These exercises work the deepest inner muscles that support my frame. The workout is more intense, and more lasting, and has a greater effect than anything I have done before.

This year, let’s make Balance a priority in our lives. Let’s ensure that with every outward stride towards performance, power and achievement, there is a corresponding inner stride towards peace, wholeness and self care. Let’s give some of our precious time as a gift to ourselves, to ensure that we preserve and defend our ability to continue our generosity. This year can be the year that we become stronger at balancing giving with taking, chaos with peace, noise with quiet, fast with slow, spending with saving, talking with listening, searching with finding, inside with outside, outward with inward, work with rest, exhale with inhale.