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When Life Gives You Lemons

Why Do Unnecessary Obstacles Block My Business?

2 MIN READ

Growing a business is not a task for the faint hearted. Every day you face the problems of not having enough time, money, support, clients, sales, opportunity. There is too many appointments, bills, needy people, frustrating customers, unmoving constraints. As start ups we were filled with optimism, but this real life business caper is not what we signed up for. With a few business years under our belts we can get to feeling like change is never going to happen and growth is impossible. We start feeling the desperation of despair and hopelessness. But I have news for you about those obstacles you face …

"Why Do Unnecessary Obstacles Block My Business?" by Kerry Anne Nelson, The Happy Widow, Melbourne based professional speaker - kerry@kerryannenelson.com - 0412 898 363

When life gives you lemons, set up a global lemonade franchise. The more lemons the better.

There are no unnecessary obstacles. every roadblock you face is exactly what you require to grow. You need them all.

Personal Roadblocks in Business

You need the ones you have made yourself because you have old mindsets that must be broken through into transformation. Start setting and stretching personal limitations with identity.

Social Roadblocks in Business

You need the ones put there by other people because they give you the chance to learn how to build a business in a world that is inherently social. Start setting and stretching personal boundaries with people.

Financial Roadblocks in Business

You need financial obstacles to make you see what I learned from Zig Ziglar: The solution to financial problems is never more money. Start setting and stretching personal strategies with resources.

Structural Roadblocks in Business

You need challenges with your structures and admin because you need to realise that without efficient, well considered systems you do not have a business that can grow … and when it’s not growing it’s dying. Start setting and stretching personal routines with time.

I have grown through seasons of hardship, challenge and trial. I have conquered through every one because I chose to see all of it as an opportunity for growth. It’s a lemons to lemonade mindset that will stop you finding reasons to stop and start you seeing opportunities to go. This blog “How You See Changes What You See” highlights my attitude best, so take a read.

There is so much you CAN do. Those challenges you call road blocks have actually built you the stage for you to grace the world with your most spectacular performance. There are no unnecessary obstacles. If you need help making a plan, this is what I do best. Contact me today to get started.

Why We Must Slow Down To Accelerate

4 MIN READ

Our western culture is too fast. We are too rash, too reactionary, too impatient, and too impulsive. We need everything yesterday. We demand everything now, and we want everything instantaneously. For a culture that is stricken by crisis across all areas of our mental health, physical wellness and personal relationships, our “rushing blur” lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. This is bad for everyone, but for small business owners, this microwave lifestyle creates three nasty problems:

Sales versus Cashflow

Trying to build a business on the strength of individual transactions looks very different to establishing healthy, sustainable cashflow operation. When our business works by chasing after the next big deal, we exchange the refreshing certainty of a surging income stream for the dangers of hot water. One day, that essential sale will not come, and that day will be followed by another, and then another. That quiet spell will hit us like a ten-year drought. We’ll find ourselves gasping for relief from unpaid supplier invoices and bills that we simply can’t afford. It will sap the life right out of us.

Chasing sales is a mugs game. I’ve had the stressful phone calls from debtors which leave you choking on payment plans that you’re not sure you can keep, as you splutter through yet another embarrassing apology. I know firsthand the anxiety of being desperate for the cash, when each sale that comes in is a very welcome sweetener to a very bitter situation. It’s very easy to become hooked on the pursuit of the sale and addicted to the thrill of the transaction.

Every business needs money coming through the till in one way or another, but when our entire operation hangs on the balance of each new deal, we are in trouble. Just because the bubble hasn’t burst yet, doesn’t mean it won’t. It’s only a matter of time.

Slow Down To Accelerate business Growth Kerry Anne Nelson

We need systems to turn our plans into cashflow

Ideas versus Plans

When our business is in the grips of our microwave mindset we jump at our first thought and try to sell it to someone instead of nurturing that seed of an idea through until it grows into a strong, sustainable plan. We humans have at least 70, 000 thoughts every single day, but 95% of these thoughts are ones we’ve already had before. We can’t possibly expect to build a strong, robust business that grows from strength to strength if we don’t give time to developing fresh, thoughtful, well considered plans for survival and then growth.

I’m a Doer. I’m naturally a go-getter and an action-taker and I have a million creative ideas that all feel like a stroke of genius the moment they hit my neurological synapse! When I talk, I talk fast and when I work, I am a blur. My fingers move across my keyboard with the speed of a thousand gazelles 😉

But in business, this tendency towards fast action is not always an asset. Indeed, experience has taught me that it can be my most costly liability. Spend hours, days, weeks, months and even years pouring yourself not into building growth, but into building systems for growth. The best investment we can make into our business is well-structured time to imagine, explore, research, document, structure and plan.

Jobs versus Systems

When jobs are done on impulse rather than being slotted into a workflow routine, we exchange the control of our business for a wild animal that ends up controlling us. Studies show that only 2% of us are good at multi tasking (Konnikova, 2014) , which explains why 40% of workplace productivity is lost to transitions. Random jobs do not a productive workplace make. We need tight systems to drive our business to its fullest potential.

Losing my husband was one of the most devastating events of my life. Aside from the personal loss though, was the business crisis I faced. My retail website was in debt, with no systems for stock control, order fulfilment, or workflow management. Despite turning over a million dollars annually with hundreds of weekly orders being processed through our warehouse, we’d been a small business with largely manual processes for our core operations. My survival after my husband died depended on implementing systems to make the most of the resources I did have. Within five weeks I had conducted a stocktake, installed inventory management software, and commenced the mammoth task of organising warehouse locations for every single line we carried. We streamlined our pick-pack process and used sales data to inform the stock we carried. Yes, this took work, but I knew that this short term investment would result in long term gain. I worked 16 hour days for six months straight, but by the end of 2014 had systemised every single job so that I could hand all of our warehouse operations over to a third party order fulfilment company. I sent my two new team members to work from home with voip phones, skype and Google drive. I sold the business 12 months after that. I was free!

From the moment we rise until the moment we retire, the jobs are there. Calling, hounding, screaming, rushing relentlessly. Like a woman’s work, the jobs in business are never done, and if we are not careful they will get the better of us. This might sound like where you are right now. Do not despair! You can clear the bottle neck of your business by exchanging sales for growing cashflow, by turning ideas into plans, and by creating systems for all of the jobs to work together like a well oiled productivity machine.

I Can Help

If you have been working hard to accelerate and now you see that you need to slow down and systemise, I would love to help. If you would like support with taking the first steps please Contact Me Here to learn more about what you can do to reclaim your time and reignite the passion you have for your business.

How To Invest Everything Always

3 MIN READ

It’s my birthday tomorrow. I’ll be turning 42. That means I have been alive for fifteen THOUSAND, three hundred and forty days so far. How many hours … ? That’s 368 160 hours …  and counting! I have seen the most amazing sights and experienced incredible moments. I have celebrated jubilant highs and faced gut-wrenching lows. In it all I have come to know that there is never one culminating moment that I will ever arrive, nor a catastrophic day that will see me come undone. I experience my life in all its fullness with every fleeting moment that we call NOW.

Our own unique identity is the pathway to connecting deeply with others in a way that doesn’t run out. (Photo: Bruno’s Garden Marysville VIC)

 

Now

The Now moment is spectacular. Each instant of our life is jam-packed full of exquisite human experience. We each perform actions that keep everything moving along, and each of our moments are held within our own experiential narrative. Everything that has happened up to this point has brought us to now, and it is from the narrative that we have already experienced that we move forward into the next part of the story that we construct for ourselves. Here, in Time itself, we access that pivotal moment which has the potential to change everything that has happened into something new.

Now I Am Myself

We have our own understandings of the world, which are nothing like any other person’s. They have a uniquely individual perspective that we will never be able to fully understand or see for ourselves. How very liberating to know that we are free to simply operate as our own independent souls, operating in powerful autonomy. We make choices to act or not to act, to speak or not to speak, to connect or not to connect. To love or to withhold that love. We reach out to others for relationship, and they may or may not respond. They too are operating from their own autonomy, making their choices in thoughts, words, actions and omissions every single day.

Now I Am Relationship

How glorious it is that from this position of individuality and independence we exist as social beings, connected to each other in a myriad of ways. It is truly marvellous that we can share a moment, a story, an aspiration, a dream. It is not a bad thing to embrace the full power of our own singularity. Indeed, it is wonderful, because it is from this knowledge of ourselves that we can extend to others in relationships that bring honour and respect to each person. When all is said and done, this is the only way we can really experience relationships at all. Both the relationship we have with ourselves, and the ones we have with those around us all hinge on our ability to offer ourselves as we really are.

Now I Define Myself

There are few things that are more destructive than to conceive yourself through the lens of another. Although my parents and others along the way had a significant influence on my development, I am not defined by who they think I am, or ought to be. Although my ideas about being a daughter, sister, mother, wife, and even widow have a powerful bearing on how I operate, these ideas do not define my person. They do not constitute my essence. Although the understandings and expectations of my children, family, friends, clients, and even my partner are important to consider when I make choices, how they see me, and how they see the relationship I share with them is not the absolute reality. Their views do not determine who I am in my own unique self.

Now You Define Yourself

This is not only true for me, of course. It is true for all of us, and it is especially true for you. It might seem painfully obvious here and now that you are your own unique person. In the safety of this Now moment, you can clearly see that you are you. You simply operate alongside others and you craft a life story as you go. But, in reality, these truths become easily blurred. It is oh so easy to forget that who we are does not have to yield to the desires of others. We do not have to meet their expectations or adjust our priorities and preferences to theirs. We can if we choose to, but we are not obliged or compelled.

No.

Who we are can stand tall in respectful confidence and powerful autonomy. In each Now moment, our bodies can work, play and move alongside others without yielding to their controlling agenda. Our minds can think, grow and learn in connection to others without relinquishing our intelligence or our insight. Our heart can invest into profoundly intimate relationships with others without yielding our identity. Our spirits can conceive and stretch out to the other souls around us in ways which preserve and defend our vulnerabilities and still keep us safe.

Oh that we would truly see our infinite power, right here and Now. Oh that we would know, in every Now moment of our lives, that it is only from this place that we can invest all that we are with all that we have.

 

Growing Pains

3 MIN READ
I am facing a struggle at the moment that I would like to get off my chest and be honest about. As many of you might already know, I have been making a concerted effort this year to take my message to more people than ever before. My heart literally cries out to help people to find and follow their passion. I have stepped out in a big, bold way to shine a light on the truths that I have come to know. And it is working. A LOT.
I am finding people … lots of people … and they are finding me …
Kerry Anne Nelson Melbourne Based Professional Speaker

It has always been my policy to bite off my than I can chew and then chew like hell. But THIS is a whole new level

Last year I spent a lot of time in solitude, writing, reflecting, connecting with the love that I have inside. From that season of profound growth I have developed the clarity, motivation and drive that comes from a sense of focus and purpose. Every time I write a Facebook post, or share a photo on Instagram, or write a blog or email, or send a new friend a personalised video … a little drop of my passion is shared out. I am convinced that the connections that I am making with so many people over these past few months have increased simply because I have decided to put it all out there. My heart is on my sleeve the way that a two year old would manage a cold. It is raw and honest and altogether real.
If you know me, you would know that I am the same at home as I am at work, and when I am out and about socialising. I am serious about my work but love to play and muck around too. I take my relationships very much to heart, and I live to make my world better in any way I can.
The challenge for me at the moment is in managing the influx of connections that I have inadvertently created by putting myself out there to this degree. With every new friend comes a new investment for me into that person. For each new friend, the same story is true … I remember your names, your stories, your businesses, your families. I take you all with me wherever I go.
It breaks my heart to miss your notifications, your messages, emails, texts, phone bank messages … but sometimes, I can’t quite get to it because they fill up faster than I can attend to them. Over the past two hours I have literally had over 100 notifications come through on Facebook alone, and I want to get to every single comment, every single like, every single contribution that you have. I want to engage and respond because I have invested in connecting with you.
I am literally sitting here with tears in my eyes because I am not sure what to do to make myself be able to keep up and continue to serve and connect with you. Each one of you is precious, and each response spurs me on … but I am human and I am only one. I will get better at this. I will find ways to get more help with my other work so that I can continue to connect with you. No matter what the nature of my relationship is with you, or the setting of our connection, I want to attend to us. I want to be present and connected and available for the brief time we get to spend on the same page. The thought of missing those moments is heart breaking to me. Those moments that I might hear you, understand you, inspire you, motivate you, or teach you  are everything I live for. Filling my life with those moments is the passion I follow.
So please, hang in there with me. I am learning. I am growing. And I am getting better at all of it

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.

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.

Be For Balance

4 MIN READ

Life is busy for all of us. Most days are full of rushing, urgent deadlines and the magic act of trying to keep all of the balls in the air. And then, just when we feel like we might actually pull that magic act off, an unexpected change comes out of the blue. We were doing great until then. The house of cards looked like it was really going to stand up. But with one gust of the winds of change, it all comes crashing down. And we panic. And we get desperate. And we wish that the change had never happened.

Your Life Will Never Be The Same Again

But it did, and this is our lot. For some of us the change may have been the loss of a loved one. For others the change could have been the closure of a business, the end of a relationship, or a move that sent us away from home. Whatever the change looked like for you, it has left you high and dry. Now, you feel like the strategies that used to bring you success simply don’t work in your new situation.

My focus word for this year is ‘Balance’. Last year was a whirlwind where I fulfilled my word ‘Charge’ with everything I could muster. This year it’s time for me to step back and harmonise all of the different parts of myself, and balance all of the things that I have set up. Last year’s driving efforts were a deliberate, strategic response to a change that I had created myself. After the loss of my husband in May 2014 I sold the business I used to share with him in December 2015. This gave me 2016 as the year that was all about me. I wanted to hit the ground running, and spent the entire year ‘Charging’ at my new professional speaking business. A little wander through my website will show you that I got lots done. Now, in 2017 I need to create another change if I am going to make this thing grow.

melbourne public speaker

Balance comes when we find ourselves in the whirlwind

First Things First

The one core thing that really worked last year was the decision that I made to put myself at the centre of my world. I had never done that before. In fact, being the oldest child from a big family, and spending years as a wife, teacher, mother, business owner, I was fairly adept at putting the needs of others ahead of my own. It is so easy for us to fall into the trap of serving others at the expense of ourselves. Giving away our ability to give. The world around us will always bring demands we are able meet. And we feel that we should. And we do … and it is fine at first, but after a while, we can’t keep going.

This is especially true when the worst happens and the unexpected comes at us out of the blue. It is not that helping others is bad, of course! But many of us are at that point of crisis where the world is upside-down. Things can’t go on like this. In this new world, there is a problem with serving others selflessly. It will come at the cost of our happiness, passion and zest for life, because we will only be able to perform actions of service which spend more in resource than we can afford. In this new normal, these actions are simply empty demonstrations of service that come from a time and place that no longer exists. We need to start operating our lives as an an extension of the investment we have made into genuine care.

Happy Days

Putting ourselves first might seem clunky at first. For some of us it has been foreign to spend time alone, to prioritise our health, to do things simply because they feel good. I have a psychologist friend who says in our society, we don’t have a mental health problem, we have an emotional health problem. It is time for us to start doing things simply because they make us feel happy. Rewarded. Proud. Beautiful. Important. Even sexy. It is time for us to step into the fullness of who we are.

Stop!

This means we need to exchange all of that busy-ness for peace. Work for rest. Striving for acceptance. Obligation for freedom. If you are anything like me, these will feel like an indulgence at first. It will feel like you have swapped giving for taking. Caring for selfishness. Diligence for laziness. But persist. Keep going with it. If you are going to find your way back to the top of your new normal, you need to know who you are in it all. You need to stop Doing what you think your life is. You need to start Being who you are in it.

You need to Be.

You.

All of that doing will leave us out of alignment and off centre, because it doesn’t fit the world we inhabit now. You might have been trying to ‘Do’ your way to happiness for days, weeks, months or even years. No more. All of that effort can be replaced with an acceptance that everything is just as it should be, and you fit at the perfect centre of it all.

Take a slow walk. Prepare your favourite meal – every single night. Paint your toe nails. Get a hair cut. Walk your dog. Catch a movie. Drive somewhere beautiful and simply look. Watch your children play. Go to the beach. Swim. Do yoga. Read. Paint. Sing. Run. Sit still. Hush. Look at your reflection in the mirror. Meditate. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply.  Write! Write! Write!

You have everything you need to enjoy wholeness, fulfilment, balance, peace. You can close your eyes, inhale deeply, let your shoulders drop, and relax your neck. You can have harmony. You can enjoy balance.

Just … Be.

Finding The Voice Of My Infinite Self

4 MIN READ

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.