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How To Invest Everything Always

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.

 

Don’t Confuse Strength With Bravery

“She is incredible. It’s like every time she cries she gets more power and just keeps going.”

The time after I lost Alec I was truly in a daze. I heard my friend describe me like this to her friend on the phone. It was when she had rushed to come and take care of us at our home in the first couple of days after the loss. I was there in my body, but not really present. For 11 days I was somewhere else … on the inside. The world was a blur around me. I could tell it was loud but the noise was muffled by my grief. I could tell it was fast but I had no connection in space to be able to accurately gauge its speed.

But even from within this isolation and disconnection, I had experienced a realisation that helped me to anchor everything and make sense of it all. You see, on the day after Alec died, I sat reading the reflections I had been keeping in my phone and I realised that everything in my life had brought me to this point. From here, I was to become an author and a speaker. I knew almost straight way that I would write a book and share a message of hope and light. At that time I had aspirations of becoming a “Professional Encourager.” These days I describe myself as The Happy Widow with a message of Unstoppable Freedom. The words almost don’t matter. What I have wanted to do with every part of this chapter is to empower you to realise that you already have everything you need to find and follow your passions.

I have always had this sort of outlook. Positive. Optimistic. Faith-filled. This doesn’t mean that I have not faced darkness … only that I don’t know a time where I have not had a glimmer of hope that it would pass, however faint that glimmer was. You don’t have to read too many of my reflections to know that I have experienced profound loss, terrifying fear, choking anxiety, and the thickest grey sludge of depression. But even amidst those times, I have always managed to pull something special from somewhere deep, to see the season through to change.

“You are so strong!”

“You will get through this. You’re a survivor.”

“You’re an inspiration, Kerry. You’re amazing.”

Given my “ray-of-sunshine” outlook, it is understandable that people would describe me as strong. I get it. I really do. But no, I can’t live up to that, and I would like to go on the record and correct this misunderstanding.

I realised a very long time ago that being strong is a falsehood, and a bar that is set too high for me to achieve. I can’t believe I’m strong on the days where I haven’t been able to pick up the phone without crying, or go to the shops without experiencing a panic attack. A strong person wouldn’t have black outs on the freeway, and wouldn’t be terrified of being alone and unloved. This is not what I would call a picture of strength. No Sirreeey.

And this is more than OK. In fact. It is perfect.

Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

We don’t need to be strong. We can make progress through our toughest days when we are bold enough to hope despite the hardship.

I have no intention of being strong. And my aim with this blog is to let you off that unrealistic hook too. Screw being strong. Real life hurts! It is hard. It is scary. It is unpredictable and it is relentless. Real life is brutal.

I permitted myself a long time ago to give up on being strong. I don’t feel strong. I don’t need to look strong, and I sure as hell don’t need to act strong. Especially when I am simply trying to keep up appearances. The pretence is worse than useless. It is damaging. Destructive. It will hold us in a prison of performance, people-pleasing, striving and falsehood. And the worst part of trying to act strong, is that it locks us in a cage that we have, in fact, constructed entirely on our own.

No. Being strong is a recipe for disaster. I chose years ago to replace this ambition with the one I have for bravery.

You see, in bravery, I can admit that I am afraid. I’m hurt. Confused. Angry. Ashamed. Lost. Broken. Terrified. In fact, to experience those feelings of overwhelm is a pre-requisite of bravery, because without them, my response would simply be … living! Bravery does not require strength. It simply requires a step of bold courage from the place of weakness.

It is in the face of fear that I can choose to practice being brave. It is when I confront pain that I can dare to show my broken heart, and somehow take steps forward. It’s in the shame that I can stand tall. In the haze that I can fight my way through to clarity. In bravery my fear becomes hope, my reluctance becomes action, and my exhaustion becomes a new flame of passion.

When I am brave I still get to cry. To shut the world out, just for a little while. To feel it all. Every lat painful bit. These agonising feelings are what make my positive response so damn brave. Being strong says “It’s fine. I’m ok. This doesn’t affect me.” But being brave says, “This hurts like crazy, but I am going to give it my best shot and see what I can make of it.”

You don’t need to be strong in the middle of the mire. But, there is a bravery inside of you that can confront your worst days head on. Let’s give up on being strong, and let’s choose to be bold and brave instead.

Happy Anniversary

I wrote this up on Facebook yesterday. I thought I would share it here where it can be woven into the bigger story of my life that I share here xx

On this day 3 years ago I celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary with Mister Alec. We got up and he had set up a plan to drive to the beach and then stop at a cafe for lunch. But in true Alec style, he hadn’t actually chosen the beach or booked the cafe, because he just expected it would all work out. We didn’t know the area we were driving to. Alec had chosen it simply because there was blue next to green on the map so he figured that this is where the beach would be. Turns out that the three hour drive all around the Point Cook area didn’t quite offer the scenic vistas he had hoped for, but it did give us a chance to listen to The Jezabels in the car and find a little cafe with amazing fish.

Melbourne based professional speaker

I didn’t know this anniversary would be our last

He was right! It did all work out. We did yoga on the beach and just enjoyed the peace and calm of being balanced and in the company of love.
It was a beautiful day, and one that brings a tear to my eye as I think of the horrible loss that I have experienced. The loss wasn’t just mine though. The world was graced with a gift in Alec, and now we must simply remember, and be grateful for the days that we had with him.

I remember on day 6 after his passing I realised that the best outcome from that awful event would simply be acceptance. Nothing was ever going to change the fact that he was gone, but that I had memories to cherish and treasures of love, learning and growth to take with me into the next chapter. I saw a glimpse of the power of that acceptance on that day, but I admit that I resented it deeply and hated the fact that to simply accept such a gut wrenching tragedy was my best option. I was angry and hurting so so much.

Now I have acceptance. My eyes still brim with tears even as I write today, because the loss is sad, and it hurt me deeply. But I am so so grateful for everything that I have experienced, and everything that I continue to experience in this magical life I have now.

What a strange thing it is. To embrace pain is to dissolve its power. By accepting the reality that some things in life will hurt – they will cut us up, changes will be permanent, and situations will be uncertain and scary – But accepting the feelings of fear, hurt, anger, resentment … even powerlessness … all empower us to tackle each day. When we accept that pain will come, and for some it is being felt right now, we can somehow enjoy a confidence that we will not only get through, but that we will be better for the experience.

So in a strange way, I am grateful. Not for the loss, or the hurt, or the feelings of fear, abandonment, loneliness, grief. But for the opportunity that I have had to learn that even amidst deep pain there is beauty, power, grace, and opportunity. From this place of acceptance, I can love more deeply, take greater risks, dream bigger dreams, and extend more of myself to others.

Because I know that pain will come, and I know I can get through that. And I know that this is the pathway to growth.

Thank you Mister Alec. You helped make me free.

Motivated By Guilt?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

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

We left.

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

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

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

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

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

The Drama Queen Needs Her Cameo

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

Melbourne speaker

Our Drama Queen can show us how we really feel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embrace Your Moment

I am currently preparing to move house, which I am told is one of the most stressful things that you can do. It is certainly challenging to juggle all of my normal workload from my “home office” (read bedroom/kitchen table/desk) plus pack up all of my stuff to move. Particularly when my new place is literally half the size of my current home, so all my stuff has turned into a ‘local pick up only’ Gumtree extravaganza (this is a site like eBay for my international readers). I have reached the stage of my life where apartment living is the best situation for me … But I digress.

My musings here today are to explore how we can continue to experience joy, contentment, and freedom even when life is insanely busy, and even when changes in life make you feel like you have been hit by a Mack truck. Our every day lives are set on ‘Hustle and Bustle’ mode most of the time. The To-Do list for the day is often longer than the time you have for each item, and the pressure to get it all done can be overwhelming. And this is just on an average day. You really know you’re alive when you rise to perform your typical juggling act on the extremely tough days… these are the times after that change happened … the days when life feels like it kicked you especially hard in the guts.

Melbourne speaker

Moments of beauty bring instant gratification and carry as through the pursuit of our mission

A few nights ago I stepped out of the frenzy of my house move for a brief little escape. This is often easier said than done, but if we don’t force these breaks to happen, they simply won’t. I remember wisdom from Brendan Burchard: “You say you’re too busy? Well stop! You are the only one who can change your schedule.”

You say you can’t, but you are the only one who can.

So I caught the train into the city and went for a walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens here in Melbourne. If you have never been, do it! It’s an exquisite part of the world that is full of nooks and crannies that are straight from the pages of a fairy tale, I swear. As this summer day became night I walked, exploring hidden paths that really are world’s best kept secret, right here in the heart of the CBD. I found a cobblestone path with steps that lead me down to a tropical garden area with a waterfall running into a cascade right through the middle of it. It was stunning. I was so thrilled to find such a treat. It was refreshing. I was truly grateful for the break that it gave me from my work at home. It was invigorating. The water was cool and clear and the sound made me feel like I was at some kind of evening spa.

Marvel At Marvellous Things

No, I didn’t jump in. I am the world’s biggest sook when it comes to mosquito bites. But I did marvel. I took photos and made a video and just breathed in the magic. The moment instantly inspired emotions from my childhood. I had a lump in my throat and couldn’t help but let out a laugh just because it was so completely beautiful. I know I was in a public place, and I always love to share, but in this moment, the universe was offering a gift just to me.

When I speak to people about Unstoppable Freedom, everything I share is pointed towards finding and following your passion. I love to inspire people to figure out what their life mission is, and then pursue that with everything they have. Often, the best time to do this is right after a crisis. There is something supremely liberating about facing life after the loss of your loved one, your relationship, your business, your home. In these times, we can be more open to making changes than in any other times in our lives.

Your Time Is Now

Whether you are in that season of rebuild, or you are simply trying to find your way out of the rat race, establishing a freedom that is unstoppable in our lives is the most liberating, empowering thing we can do. But starting this process has to happen from right where you are. There is no point searching for a clean slate or a brand new start. This is the stuff of glossy magazines and media pitches that appeal only to your desire to be done with all of the story that brought you here. But you can’t. It is impossible to erase the days that you have experienced up to now. You will never be able to go back to the drawing board and just start over again.

What you have is Now. Each of us have this moment that hosts our life. All of the moments of the past have brought us to this one, and when this one is over we will never get it back. It is certainly valuable to reflect and take stock of where we have been previously, and where we are headed in the future, but the only space life is actually experienced is in Now. The past is the stage and the future is the imminent ovation from the crowd, but you are the star of the show that is playing this instant.

To be unstoppably free is to ensure that we make space for moments of life and love, Now. Today. Here. In this life. They won’t come if you don’t make room for them. The world owes you nothing and there is no-one else who will make this happen for you. This is your responsibility. Your opportunity. Your moment. For you, in you, by you.

These moments are everywhere. They are there for the taking. They can be inexpensive and often they are free. They can be close by and often they are in your home town. They can be short, but boy oh boy can they be sweet. If you are facing grief, anxiety, depression, stress, burnout, overwhelm, this blog is for you. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the sparkling moments that are there for the taking. Embrace your moment.