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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.

 

Facebook Official

3 MIN READ

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

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

 

Melbourne based speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Don’t Confuse Strength With Bravery

4 MIN READ

“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.

Motivated By Guilt?

3 MIN READ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kerry Anne Nelson Professional Speaker

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

We left.

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

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

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

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

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

The Drama Queen Needs Her Cameo

4 MIN READ

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

Melbourne speaker

Our Drama Queen can show us how we really feel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Embrace Your Moment

4 MIN READ

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.

 

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.

Balance

5 MIN READ

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

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

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

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

Melbourne Professional Speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balance comes from strength.

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

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

Reflecting On The Truth We See

3 MIN READ

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.

Three Mirrors

4 MIN READ

We all dream of living a fulfilling life. Every one wants to be happy and healthy, enjoying success in their work and meaningful relationships with the people closest to them. Coming to know ourselves in fullness and truth is foundational to our ability to be successful in our lives. Understanding our strengths and preferences, our nature, our temperament, and our own unique needs provides the platform we need to launch into our personal significance. It is when we see ourselves as loved, and worthy of success, and connected in belonging to the people we care about, that we are truly free to pursue our deepest passions. Helen Keller put it perfectly:

What I am looking for is not out there. It is in me.

This quest for ourselves is where freedom starts, because if we are successful in this search, nothing can hold us back from our passions. Knowing how to meet our own intrinsic needs allows us to get on with the business of pursuing our purpose with unfettered passion. 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 more free than the American dream.

Melbourne public speaker

How I see myself reflects my capacity for success, influence, and ultimately, love

What Is In The Mirror?

When we look into the mirror, what do we see? Over the course of my life I have had several experiences of reflecting on my self concept. Each one of these times speaks volumes about how I saw myself at the time. In retrospect I can see that how I perceived myself directly affected the opportunities and outcomes of my life.

The first mirror memory I have happened when I was thirteen years old. I’d just had yet another a massive fight with my stressed, working class parents in our over-crowded army home. After standing my ground for ages, I finally stormed off to my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. I don’t remember what the fight was about now, but I do remember catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror that hung to the left of the door, just above my dresser drawers. The anger inside me was a raging torrent of teen hormones, and the tears I had been trying to swallow back in pride were released the moment that door crashed shut. I stopped and looked at my crying self in the mirror, and it was surreal. I saw the resentment I had towards my life, and the defeat in my outlook. I saw someone who felt trapped and disempowered. My tears were those of a victim who could barely see out of them. I sat on my bed, and just cried. My dad opened my door and barked further at me, “What are you doing?”

“I’m crying.”

He didn’t know what to do with my candid response. It silenced the argument. He left. Even though I felt trapped in my family situation, I still stood my ground and owned my feelings and my reaction. I felt trapped in my emotions, but in my response I showed I was free.

The Mirror Showed My Reality In The World

My next significant mirror moment happened two decades later. I was thirty-three years old, and I was just back from a run. I had been slowly developing my fitness, diligently doing the evening jogs that helped me recover after losing my voice. Those runs were brutal. I was desperately overweight and the isolation of the voice strain injury had left me depressed, anxious, and broken. I saw my reflection in the mirror as I opened the glass shower door. How could this be? I had run for a good half an hour, but I was still the same size as before I left. I felt thinner. With all of those endorphins buzzing and my muscles zinging from the work out, I felt like an olympic athlete. Surely I should look like Beyonce by now?

But no. I was still this overweight person whose reality in the world was still pretty far away from the reality I was hoping to create. When I looked in the mirror that evening, I realised that my circumstances provided me with a limited view of the greater picture. The full truth was that I was already healthy and whole in my person, but my circumstances would take time to reflect that. When I looked into the mirror this time, I realised how I see myself on the inside will always become evident on the outside, if I just give it enough time.

The Mirror Reflects My Choices

The last significant mirror moment occurred  a couple of years ago, after my husband died. I was getting ready to go to work at the warehouse I used to share with him, and reached across the mirror to the shelf where my perfume lived, only to find that the bottle was just about empty. Now this might seem an ordinary event to you, but for me, it was pivotal. It might seem absurd, but I had never bought perfume before. As the oldest of five in a poor family, this sort of thing was considered an unobtainable luxury. Then, as Alec’s first lady, perfume was always gifted to me for Christmas and birthdays.

As I looked in the mirror, I had to decide how I saw myself. Would I see the oldest of five and mother of two who always put the needs of others first, and didn’t indulge in luxuries? Would I see the grieving widow whose greatest fear was that she would never be loved again? Or would I see myself as beloved? Worthy? Connected in belonging? And as I looked into the mirror I realised that the only view that suited me now was to believe that I was beautiful, and only I could give myself the gift of self love.

The next time you look in the mirror, take a closer look. Examine behind the reflection. Be transparent with yourself. What do you see? And promise me, that you will keep looking, and keep refining, and keep cleansing, until you see the truth. Because in the mirror is someone who is beautiful on the inside and out, valuable to connect with yourself and others, and worthy of all of the love you can give and receive. You are Infinite. You are everything. And you most certainly are enough.