Posts

Jelly Belly of Power

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

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.

What If … ?

What if I can’t … ?

What if they don’t … ?

What if they won’t … ?

What if it doesn’t work … ?

Life is full of crossroad moments. We make decisions every day about the direction of our lives, but some of these choices are more significant than others. Every time we face an important choice or a change we are instantly confronted with questions and cautions. Making the right decision is always a priority, but sometimes we put a lot of pressure on trying to guarantee success. Often, our ability to choose the best pathway will give us rewards in our health, finances, relationships, business, family, career, schedule and lifestyle. These choices matter.

Over the past few years I have encountered change after change after change. Each of these moments have brought me to the point where I simply had to respond. When my husband died, I had to make choices about his funeral, our business, his personal items, where I lived. In some of these areas, I struggled to make any choice at all. Admitting that this monumental change had happened, and then responding to it positively was gut-wrenching. Alec’s coffee mug sat right alongside his other desk items for weeks, completely untouched. It was only the developing mould that finally pushed me to make the choice to remove it.

Resisting Change

It is completely understandable that when life throws an unexpected spanner in the works, we struggle to make choices. We are human. We are sensitive, vulnerable and delicate. We look for ways to avoid hurt, loss, and uncertainty. We are drawn to the familiar and to the path of least resistance. Our brain directs us to do whatever we can to maintain safety, security and comfort. All of us have an involuntary, instinctive drive towards self-preservation. This motivation is meant to keep us safe and sound. It maintains the status quo, and steadies us in places we already know and understand.

From the ease of the familiar, change is not desirable. In fact, when our agenda is to continue safely as we always have, change is the enemy. When unexpected change comes at us out of the blue, it rocks our world so hard that we think we might be buried under the rubble of the earthquake. We seriously doubt we will make it.

This dreadful feeling of overwhelm is a crisis is absolutely horrible, but what about when we meet an opportunity to CREATE changes? After the crisis has hit, we are presented with the need to refocus, redefine, redirect, rebuild. How things go now is completely up to us. This is really tough going. Our brain is naturally resistant to change, so it’s common for us to approach these times wishing that everything would just return to the way it was. But this vain hope is not reality, and if we continue to cling to it, we face the very real threat of going under.

There Is Loss

Yes, there is a time for sadness, grieving, loss, devastation, mourning, licking our wounds. It is vital that we invest into letting the full impact of the loss really hit us. Whether you have lost a partner like me, or a child or other loved one, or even if you have watched a relationship fall apart, or a business fold, these changes pack a powerful punch to our emotions. The loss hurts. Deeply. Feeling that pain is central to our ability to move through it.

And There Is More

But I know from experience that there is more. Even when the pain is still throbbing, the tears are still flowing, and our heart is still racing in terror, there is more contained in this season. Your future hangs right there in the balance of your choices. In this season you are the only one with the power to make the decisions that will change your outcome. Even at this moment in time, you can embrace change. You can harness the opportunity amidst the crisis.

Hope lives while we still have breath in our lungs

Dec 17 2014. The day I moved out of our warehouse: I had a lonely sense of hoping against hope that my plans would work. I was exhausted and terrified … but I persisted … “What if I could make it?”

From where you’re sitting now, this might seem absurd. This response goes against your instinctive reaction to protect, defend, hide, retreat. To imagine that you are powerful at this time, and that there are opportunities hidden amidst the loss almost seems irreverent, cold, heartless. This mindset presses all of the buttons of our doubt, fear and discomfort. We look for a way out. We shrink back behind guilt, and retreat to the position of victim. We throw our hands up in the air and we call it quits. We ask all of the “What If … ?” questions at the top of this blog. We concede defeat and, we dress up our surrender for a worthy parade. In the honourable name of ‘mourning’, we settle for our miserable outcome.

I know how you feel. To this day I still pinch myself that I was able to clean out Alec’s wardrobe, move away from the home that we had built together, sell the business that he loved. Yes, I faced pangs of guilt and shame and sheer disbelief at the steps that I took. Honestly, I still do at times. It does seem crude and confronting that life would go on.

But it does. And for two minutes here, I hope we can all come to an acceptance of the fact that when life thrusts you into disaster, it hurts. And when it hurts we find it harder to stand up and make choices in our lives. And we ask ourselves questions to justify that hardship. Those questions highlight the risk of failure, the potential for loss, the uncertainty of the outcome. And we use the answers to justify our retreat. Despondence. Disillusionment. Disengagement.

But we are still alive. We are the survivors of the depression, the bankruptcy, the breakup, the death of our loved one. Our heart still beats out a rhythm and our breath still whispers life. It is lovely, precious and endearing that we want to protect ourselves from additional pain. But this is not always beneficial, and it certainly doesn’t allow us to build pathways towards growth and freedom when we need to recover what we can from a devastating crisis.

So, instead of asking “What If … ?” questions that enliven fear, let’s start asking the questions that enliven faith. “What if …” we could ask questions that shine a spotlight on opportunity? We could make this entire situation into something new. We could bring honour to the season of loss. We could show ourselves and others that all is not lost. People are kind, the world is good, and life is worth living. We could dare to search for something good amidst the bad, and we could actually find it!

What if I tried?

What if I could?

What if it worked?

What if I don’t?

Be For Balance

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.

Follow Your Passion

Like so many lessons in life, learning about our passion sends us back to nature. All living things must have the ability to reproduce because this is how life continues. Living things can only be produced by other living things of the same kind, so every single living organism owes its existence to the reproductive activities of the generation that came before it. The reality is, all living things will eventually die. Processes of reproduction are not essential to the survival of that one organism, but they are essential for the continuation of the species as a whole. Ultimately, the ability of any living thing to continue the legacy of life itself is valuable not to its own generation, but for the generations of that species that are still to come.

Humans Are Alive To Create A Lasting Difference

Whether it is in training your team, building your business, raising your kids, contributing to your community, or creating something new for the rest of us, we all have the capacity to build a legacy that lives on to serve the generations that come after us. This is why we are alive: to create an effect that ripples out beyond ourselves. The creation of a legacy is something all of us could achieve, yet so many of us don’t know where to start, or how to continue. If we are to live a life of unstoppable freedom, the pursuit of our legacy is our greatest calling. Our Infinite Self is made full 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. It is in the fulfilment of this pursuit that we ignite our deepest passions. To work on building our legacy is to establish a sense of mission that simply can’t be stopped.

Melbourne Public Speaker

Passion drives us through dark days

Sometimes, The Only Way Out Is Through

We have all faced periods of our lives that require us to put our head down and bum up to simply make it to the end. I’m sure that all of us can look back and see times where the only way out of a tough situation was straight through the middle of it. Living day to day and week to week is necessary to survive the tough seasons of our lives. I certainly would not want to minimise or downplay the importance of these times. But this way of life does not reflect our capacity for freedom. It is certainly not the way we sustain a life of limitless passion. There is nothing more frustrating or depressing than to pour your heart and soul into your efforts only to have the effects of your work dissolve away with the passing of time. Knowing that your blood sweat and tears will amount to little more than an expensive cycle of earn, spend, earn, spend, earn, spend is … well … it’s mind numbing, deflating, demoralising.  The problem with this lifestyle is that it leaves us worrying, “I make no difference.” We know we want more lasting fulfilment.

We completely realise the Passion of our Infinite Self by building a legacy of Outward service to others in the world around us.

Passion Shines Through The Toughest Days

When I lost my husband Alec in May 2014 I was quickly caught up in a sense of mission that cut through the darkness of my grief like a hot knife through butter. Now, this grief was unlike anything I had ever experienced before, and I hope I never feel that horrible gutting loss ever again … to this day I live daily in the hope that I outlive my children. But even amidst the tears, the numbness, the loss of appetite, butterflies that took over my entire body, and cloudiness that pushed the world into a hazy, muffled corner of my outlook … even amidst the grief, I found my passion. It was born straight out of my purpose, and it made everything make sense.

I found it by looking into myself. I had to look to see what was left, even when I felt like I had lost everything. It was scary, but I did it. And I found that I still had a deep investment into things that had always been important to me … education, business, empowerment, reflections, writing, sharing, relationships, people. And from these innate strengths, and these attributes and priorities that were still alive even after my husband had died, I found my purpose which instantly set me ablaze with passion. It was truly surreal. But it happened.

Investing In Our Purpose Inspires Unstoppable Passion

The dedication that I have to my purpose ignites a passion in me that is unstoppable. I am convinced that the greatest heights of my passion are reached when I serve others with my skills, strengths and resources. For me, my service is to support other people towards growth. I love nothing more than to participate in another person’s journey, equipping and inspiring them along the way. Whether I am parenting my kids, teaching in the classroom, presenting a seminar or talk, or working with my clients, there is nothing better than joining in with someone who suddenly gets a spark of insight that changes their lives forever. I am hooked on that Aha! Moment. You know, the instant where the light bulb switches on? When new knowledge is constructed and it can only transform. I am all about helping people achieve their own freedom.

I am not alone in having desire to build a legacy. We all need this. Your legacy may not be global, it may not be public, and it may not be world-changing. The legacy in your heart may not even seem achievable right now. But if you step up to the plate of the mission that is calling you, I am convinced that this investment will ignite a passion in your heart that will never be quenched. Your legacy could exist in a product you develop, the teaching you pass on to your students, the inheritance you leave to your children, the love that you ground your family in. It could be expressed through art, music, fitness, business, dog walking, social work, design, real estate investment, beauty therapy … the list is endless for everyone. But for you, there is one thing. One thing burning in your heart. This is your gift to the world. This is the purpose that will set your passion ablaze and see you through your hardest days. It is the thing that you can’t help but pursue. Our Infinite Self is perpetually replenished by serving others in ways that suit our innate skills, strengths and attributes.

Pursue Your Purpose

As living beings we have certain characteristics in common with other living things. These separate us from non-living things. Considering the attributes that make us Alive can help us to understand the nature of our existence, and as we pull that apart, we will uncover qualities that lend themselves towards a new way of living.  This new way of living is more free than any other because it comes naturally to us. Living without limits can be as intuitive to us as breathing itself.

Like all living things, we as humans need to grow if we are to continue to be alive. Growth is the permanent, irreversible increase in size and mass of the living organism. It occurs in every living thing. Most living plants continue to increase in size throughout their lifespan, while animals usually grow to maturity and then maintain a constant size. All of the living processes of a single celled organism take place within that one cell, so growth for this form of life simply means the cell gets bigger.

melbourne professional speaker

Our purpose expands our capacity and highlights the way forward

Our Purpose Promotes Growth

In our Infinite Selves growth occurs best when we are in  pursuit of our purpose. To live a life of purpose and conviction is to enjoy a sense of significant, intentional expansion in our day to day lives. With purpose comes the cause that sets our heart on fire and enlarges our capacity. We rise every morning with our eyes firmly set on our grand plan, having a sense of urgency and priority about what we do with our lives. This feeling comes from deep within us, because it originates in the core of our person. It is the drive of our Infinite Self. Knowing that our days will contribute to something of consequence brings us to a place of honour every day. We walk through every season with our shoulders back and our head held high. Who we are is realised in our purpose. This objective not only defines our reason for living, but it defines our very essence. It is in our purpose that we grow into the fullness of our Infinite Self.

Without this sense of purpose we cannot be fully, vibrantly alive. We find it all too easy to crumple like an old aluminium can. As soon as the pressure comes, we have no strength to withstand its destructive effects. When we haven’t decided and committed to our reason for living, we have very little to bring when the going gets tough. It is in these times that we see ourselves compromising on things that we thought were important. We sell out like a wilting flower. We cannot grow because we make no stand, and our living slowly stops.

Without Purpose Life Is Sluggish And Listless

 In these times, we face serious problems of being ineffective and unproductive. We can be working our fingers to the bone, but in the absence of a purposeful aim for our efforts, we risk burning out from the sheer exhaustion that comes from endless striving.  A lack of purpose can look and feel like a lack of power in our lives. It certainly feels like there is no point to doing anything much at all. It is so incredibly frustrating to know that we have a yearning for something worth fighting for. Without this conviction, we become disillusioned and disengaged from living itself.

When this happens, we end up missing out on a fulfilling, custom-made intention that pulls us through listless disillusionment into driving conviction. Our purpose gives us the strong foundation we need to face challenges with tenacity and setbacks with resolve that we will make it through. We have to. Our purpose depends on it. Our lives depend on it.

Purpose Draws Us Through The Crisis

It might seem strange or even morbid to you, but it was my own personal sense of purpose that pulled me through the days, weeks and months after my husband Alec died. It was on the day after I lost him unexpectedly that I sat at my dining table, reading over the reflective notes I had been keeping in my phone for the past few years. I knew instantly that these notes would become my book, and that I would direct everything I had towards building a professional speaking and coaching career. I wanted nothing more than to invest my natural strengths and all of my resources towards the fulfilment of this plan. This specific plan was new, and was conceived that day from the midst of my life-changing circumstances. But the plan came from the purpose that had been with me for as long as I can remember. My mission in life has always been to help people empower themselves to fulfil their greatest potential. In more recent times I have crafted this purpose statement:

The purpose of my life is to enjoy the ongoing rewards of living and loving without limits, to confidently thrive in growth through change, to feel the freedom that comes from personal empowerment, and to help others do the same.

This purpose continues to fuel my efforts at work, home and play every single day.

More often than not, our truest self takes some time to come into its own. Engaging with the journey of possessing the growth available to us in any and every situation. This is vital if we are going to grow to realise our greater Purpose. To clarify your purpose, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my unique strengths and skills?
  • What do I want?
  • What are my lofty goals and crazy ambitions?  
  • What do I want to be known for?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?  
  • What makes me happy?  
  • What are my deal breakers of happiness, the things i simply can’t be happy without?
  • What leaves a glistening residue of fulfillment that lights me up ages after the moment has passed?
  • What am I really good at?  
  • What can I do that leaves a lasting impact on the world?

When we hear the whisper of our purpose in our hearts, it is like music to our ears. To come through the journey of connecting deeply with ourselves, then sharing this rich, deep person with the world, we come to realise that we have a strength that comes from somewhere infinite within us. This gives rise to a sense of power and opens opportunities for rewards we can create and gather to ourselves. This in turn gives us a sense of our unique purpose. This purpose is the thing that only we can offer the world. We comprehend the defining Purpose of our Infinite Self by expanding our awareness of our original, one-of-a-kind inner person. Our Infinite Self thrives when we realise that we exist to pursue a cause that burns bright. When we watch ourselves acting in the power of our Infinite Self in the world, we begin to realise that we each have a unique reason for living that suits us down to the ground.

Knowing these three things about growth will help us press on in pursuit of our purpose.

  1. GROWTH IS CONTINUOUS: On the day we stop growing, we stop living. This growth can be in baby steps, or in leaps and bounds, but without it, we cannot continue. Every day offers us opportunity to grow. Some days our growth is in our character, while others the growth is in our strength, our relationships, our finances, our spirit, our connection with ourselves. There is never a day that comes that is without these chances to grow. Every day we can enlarge the capacity of our Infinite Self.
  2. GROWTH IS DRIVEN BY PURPOSE: Just like plants grow towards the sun, and send their roots deep down into the soil in search of water, your growth will be drawn towards your own unique purpose. This purpose is unlike any other person’s, because you are your own spectacular person. To maximise opportunities for growth everyday is to come to know your superpower. Find the work that energises you and invest in it with everything you have.
  3. GROWTH ALWAYS WANTS MORE: Growth is hungry. It is driving, and it is relentless. It never stops. It is insatiable. Your Infinite Self has an urgent need for growth. This growth doesn’t need to look like gigantic strides, but it simply can’t look like standing still. Pursuing your purpose, even in tiny incremental steps will refresh your Infinite Self like nothing else can. It will be the invigoration you have needed all along.

Living a life of growth in our purpose requires a life-changing commitment. Pledge today to live a life driven by purpose:

I will live a life of Conviction, dedicated to the ongoing task of unearthing my Infinite Self. I will refuse to accept anything in life which allows jaded disillusionment to dim my unique shine. I will give ourselves to the passions of my heart, directing them towards my purpose and guarding them with my integrity. Compromise is out of the question for me. I will rise with determination to the call of my Infinite Self.

Balance

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.

Reflecting On The Truth We See

If we are to be defined by freedom, we have some cleaning house to do, so that we see a clean, powerful reflection of ourselves when we look into the mirror. Our mindset is everything. If we are to enjoy a freedom that is truly unstoppable, we need to see ourselves as the person who is defined by our passion, and this has to start with how we see ourselves. I say all the time, how we see changes what we see.

When we look in the mirror we need to see someone who is already embracing the new chapter they are in, and who is living up to their best selves, now. For us to be able to do that, and to keep going with that forever, we need to establish some truths that will act as a strong reliable foundation that will then serve as the launchpad of our lives. Let me help you to see what you should be looking for in the mirror.

Melbourne public speaker

We can choose what we see in the mirror

You are Change

Firstly, I want you to know that changing your old mindsets, beliefs and actions is something that actually comes naturally to you, because you are change. You are more than just an observer of change, or the driver of change, and you are certainly NOT the victim of change. You are actually change. Change is a defining aspect of your identity. It is who you are, and who you will continue to become.

Did you know that all of the cells in our body continue to live and function by dying and replacing themselves? There is a myth that our bodies regenerate themselves in seven year cycles, which is not true. Our stomach lining cells die and replace themselves every two days, our skin cells every two weeks, and our red blood cells every four months. Our physical bodies live and function by the very act of changing out old for new. I love that metaphor. When you look back over your life you know that this is what you have done to survive and function throughout it all. Old parts of you have died and new parts have come to replace them. Old thoughts and old views become new. This is how we live. So today, you have everything you need to follow your passion because YOU ARE CHANGE. This makes you Unstoppable.

You are Infinite

The only exception to these patterns of cell regeneration is in our brain cells. The cells in our brain never replace themselves. We are born with as many brain cells as we will ever have, and when they die, they die. So if you have a high impact bump that rattles your brain around inside your skull, the cells that die never come back. Or if you have a big night out on the town, and you drink some of your precious brain cells to death on the best Saturday night you have ever had, you never get those back either.

So Kerry Anne how can you expect me to believe that I am infinite if my brain cells are the only ones that die forever? Well, it’s because the brain cells actually do two remarkable things. Firstly, they continue to live after the body dies, for up to three days according to some studies. Secondly, there are developing theories that suggest our brain cells might be able to live forever. Recently scientists have been conducting experiments on rats where they attempt to transplant brain cells into new hosts. Not only have they been successful with these transplants and the transplanted brain cells have been accepted and function perfectly well in their new home, but the new brain cells can continue to live longer than they would have in their original home. If the transplanted brain cells find a home in a younger, healthier host, they can actually outlive their original owner. In theory, this means that brain cells could transplanted again and again to live forever.

I love this! This means that the cells in our brain, the operations centre of our bodies, reflects the reality that we are Infinite. These cycles of change happening though death and new life in our cells, and permanence happening from our brain, teach us universal truths about the importance of holding on and letting go. Surely then, if we can see in our metaphorical mirror that we ARE Change, and that we ARE Infinite, then that can allow us to believe this third truth:

You are Enough

There is nothing more that you need. You are adequate. You are beautiful. Gifted. Perfectly blessed. You have every asset gifted to you, and you possess now every single thing that you will ever need to be free.

This quest for ourselves is where freedom starts, because if we are successful in our quest, nothing can hold us back from our passions. When we know who we are, and when we are confident about that person, we run at our mission like a bull at a gate.  When we like who we are, and we see ourselves without destructive filters we are free to follow our deepest passions, with abandon.

2017 Freedom Goals

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” 

Michelangelo

At this time of year we have a sense of being bright eyed and bushy tailed, thankful that last year is over and overflowing with optimism about the promise of the year ahead.

Melbourne Professional Speaker

2017 is the year you taste freedom

In the past we have approached this turn of the new year with resolve. We have surveyed the landscape of our life, and we have taken stock of our work, our relationships, our health, our finances, our lifestyle. This time of year inspires us to reflect, and evaluate, and appraise.

But for some strange reason, some of us have used these things to measure the value of our lives … Indeed, we have drawn on these things to rate our very person. We have judged ourselves against an unforgiving, arbitrary standard. We have quantified the contribution we have made, and the progress we have gained so far. Our view during these times can easily become tainted with comparisons which create feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, deficiency, lack.

This year is different. This is not the time to figure out how you could do more, be more, have more. There is no goal or performance or achievement that will tell you the thing you need to celebrate most at this time of year. Well, what is worth celebrating then?

It is YOU!

In this coming year you will survey your life with eyes that nurture the spectacular person that you are. You will appreciate your loving heart, your generous spirit, your undying dedication, your relentless tenacity. You have come so far! You have done yourself proud. You have given your all. Now is the time to celebrate and pat yourself on the back.

And as you look forward to the wide blue yonder of 2017, do so with care. It’s time to do away with the rod of denial, perfectionism, regret and disapproval that you have made for your own back. Instead, embrace the possibilities of the new year. Search the depths of your pure, perfect centre. You never know what could happen if you muster up courage to release your power.

Oh, imagine the things that could erupt into the life you have today.

With so much to leave behind, and so much to look forward to, let’s take a minute all to ourselves. For just a sparkling moment, life is going to be all about you. This is your time of gratitude, reflection, aspiration, vision.

Close your eyes and open your heart.

Breathe …

Simply inhale a feeling of peaceful hope, contented anticipation, and the certainty of faith. Glimpse into your future. Dare to believe that 2017 is your year to shine.

In this instant you have the chance to set your mind for the year. This is not so much about setting goals, but rather fixing your gaze on the vision of the life you desire, and the magnificent person you will continue to unearth. Let us start this year with a solemn vow. Right now, you can make this pledge:

I declare that 2017 is my year of ______________

I will make it a priority to feel better this year. I will direct my thoughts and experiences to focus on these three feelings most of the time:

  1. ___________________
  2. ___________________
  3. ___________________

How I see determines what I see. In 2017 I will reframe the way I perceive adversity, set backs and failure. I will look for ways to grow in all things, but I will make these three areas my priority:

  1. __________________
  2. __________________
  3. __________________

This year I will be brutally honest with myself, and I will not permit old ways of thinking any longer. Up until now I have believed things that deep down, I know are not true. I used to believe these things, but I will do away with these lies and excuses in 2017:

  1. I am _________________________________
  2. The world is ____________________________
  3. My life is ______________________________

Now I will believe these things:

  1. I am _________________________________
  2. The world is ____________________________
  3. My life is ______________________________

I will not allow destructive mindsets to motivate me any longer. Now that I have done away with these old ways of thinking, I would like to make 2017 the year I have a go at:

_________________________________

I know that when I flow in love, passion and creativity I produce the best results in all areas. This year, I want that deep flow to create:

_________________________________

2017

I welcome you with open arms. You are the year I have been preparing for my whole life. To you, I bring all of my skills, experience, insight, hopes, dreams and determination. I offer you all that I am, and everything that I have, in passionate pursuit of my purpose.

 

 

Why You Should Blow Off The New Year

I wonder how many goals are set at this time of year that should really have been left in the realm of “wishful thinking.” How many people are setting resolutions even now, hoping that this year their dreams really might come true. How many are enjoying the field day of their best intentions, even as I type up this blog? Forbes tells us the shocking fact that only 8% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions actually achieve them. At this time of year we get crazy! We try to conjure up success from nothing. We wistfully dream that this time will be different. This time, the magic wand will work. This is a miserable and defeated way to start the year.

Or is it? What if knowing that the odds are against us could actually work for us? This likelihood of failure could be the permission that we need to take all of that pressure off ourselves. We could start this year without wishing that we could be someone different overnight. We might even be able to let go of the idea that we need something else, something more, something new, something different? Perhaps our ambition for this coming year could be to accept how things are, and work from here? Maybe, knowing that we are unlikely to achieve our New Year’s wishes might be just the tip we needed to let us off the hook this time around.

Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

Lets celebrate how far we have come this New Years

Please understand. If you have read any of my writing, or spent even ten minutes with me in the flesh, you will know that I am the Queen of big dreams and crazy ambitions. I live to throw all of my eggs into the one basket of my most daring imaginations. I am a picture of drive and the master of motivation. I am a big thinker, a busy doer – I am an ideas woman who puts her money where her mouth is.

But I have solemn convictions. I believe that we should not come at the process of goal setting from a light-hearted, flippant, dare I suggest drunken state of mind. The turn of the New Year does not have a mystical power that makes our wishful thinking suddenly work. The words that you say, and the lofty heights that are set require a serious commitment. I am a believer in the importance of goal setting, but I am mindful of the power of this process. Setting goals is fraught with a couple of specific dangers that must be handled with caution.

  1. Our Self Respect Hinges On Reaching The Goal

You see, to set a goal is to establish a standard, and once it is set, it must be reached. This is vital. Because we draw confidence from the goal. Self-esteem. Self worth. Self respect. Our goals are the pivot point of how we see ourselves. If we fall short of the goal, or if we achieve it but then go back to our old ways, we undermine the pivotal trust we need to have in ourselves. Without this trust, we simply cannot be free. We can’t be truly liberated, powerful, passionate people who throw themselves into life with abandon if we know that we are the ones who gave up, or relapsed.

The first risk that comes with goals is in the effects of failure. Setting the goal is fine, healthy, productive, powerful. And I admit that I do set my own goals regularly and often. But achieving them is essential. Once the goal is set, there is no looking back. I hesitate before I set any goal. If I achieve it and make the success last, it is a powerful, transformational win. But if I don’t, the goal has done more damage than good. Blowing off the New Year’s resolution all together means that we don’t face the threat of losing our self respect. Let’s leave the goal setting for a time that we can give it the honour it deserves.

2. Setting A Goal Asks For More

At this time of year we can all become quite the reflective philosophers. We look around our lives and we consider our progress, significance, worth. We measure the value of our lives, the contribution we have made, and the progress we have gained so far. Our view during these times can easily become tainted with comparisons which create feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, deficiency, lack. This is a dangerous attitude to bring to any season of goal setting.

There is more to you than the shortcomings you see at New Years. You have come so far! You have done yourself proud. You have given your all. Now is the time to celebrate and pat yourself on the back. It is not time to figure out how you could do more, be more, have more. At least, not from a mindset that starts from a sense of personal deficit. There is no goal of performance or achievement that will tell you the thing you need to celebrate most at this time of the year. You! Let’s blow off that thinking this New Year’s. Instead, let’s embrace this:

You are already enough.

You are not your work. You are not your actions. You are not your achievements or your decisions. Who you are cannot be measured by the things you have done or the goals you have reached. You are more than these things. Your substance is richer, fuller, deeper. You are more than the work of your hands or the striving of your goals.

As we welcome the New Year in we bid farewell to the year that has past, and we embrace the year that lies ahead. Let’s do this with care. Let’s set our gaze on the year to come through eyes that embrace our own perfection. Let’s make it our aim to pursue change only from a place of Acceptance. Peace. Security. Wholeness.

If you are to set a goal at all, let it start with this pledge:

2017 I welcome you with open arms. This is the year that I accept I am already enough. I will act on the conviction that everything I need is already within me. With all that I am now, I will dream new dreams, face new challenges, pursue new directions, and follow my deepest passions. I am endlessly empowered and permanently liberated to grow, evolve and change through each new season. I will work hard to bring my best game to the opportunities afforded by each new day. I will be confident that there is nothing more that I need to do, earn or become. Nothing can make me more valuable or worthy than the person I am now.