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How You See Determines What You See

2 MIN READ

If there is one word that we could all relate to lately it is change! Changing social environments, changing global news, changing health concerns, changing lifestyle opportunities. Change has taught me a lot of lessons over the years, but this one is pertinent today:

Your words are your greatest power in defining your outlook, and so your future.

What we say is powerful! I know from experience that William Golding was right in the Lord of the Flies: “The greatest ideas are the simplest.” The truth of this concept is such a foundational part of my life now that its thread is easily identified in everything I do, think and say. I continue to invest in my own empowerment, and the empowerment of those around me, by exploring and clarifying how words can produce the best possible outcome in any and every situation.

“Your words can be powerful, then can hurt or uplift, so think before you speak, as every word you say counts” Leon Brown

How much do you think about the words you use? Like all of us, you think about the things you want, the things you do, the things you have … Do you ever listen to what you’re saying to yourself and those around you? Considering the world you are creating with your words can literally transform your life.

It’s been said that words are thoughts, and without them, humans can’t think.  We have around 50,000 thoughts per day, some say 70,000, but did you know that 95% of those thoughts are simply old ones on repeat? Only 5% of our thoughts are hot off our mental press, meaning that the words filling our mind today are almost identical to the ones that were there yesterday. Our brain is the best autopilot around. However, this repeating cycle does nothing for us when we want to change, or respond to a change that came at us out of the blue.

The good news is that we can choose the words we say to ourselves, so we can actually start to put this mental repetition to work for us. As we start to explore who we are by examining the words we think and say, we enter the inner part of ourselves that can be changed by choosing new words. It’s important to notice the script that is already there, because this will need to be actively discarded and replaced by the new words you choose.

I went through a very humbling journey recently as I listened to the default response I gave when people asked, “How are you?” Without missing a beat I would say I was doing well, only to follow up with how hard I had been working and how many trials I was trying to overcome. This response must have been created at some stage of my working-class background, in a society that wears hardship like a badge of honour. As an adult now, I am powerful to choose my own outlook. This response sounded ugly to me. It was like I heard myself for the first time that day. In a strange combination of shame at what I’d found and excitement of what was to come, I decided to change the way I spoke. I was keen to alter those discouraging, defeated words to make them more positive and uplifting. This would result in me deleting the old words from my identity script, forever. I always want to choose words that create encouragement, success and advancement.

We can all respond by telling people that we are well, then say something wonderful that has happened lately. Then, we can all ask how they are. Typically, you will receive a reply like your own. Your words have set a different pace for the conversation. Everybody wins! There are no excuses for complaining that life is too hard. Even on the toughest days, your friends are kind, the world is genuinely beautiful, and opportunity awaits. The sun is always shining above the darkest storm.

You are the only person in the entire world who can master the power of your thoughts and language. Only you can choose the words that make a positive shift in your life. To use your words with creative power, you need to deliberately, strategically break into who you are to change what you find. You need to unlock the things you think and the things you say to transform how you see the world. Because How you see determines What you see.

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If this article has struck a chord with you, please go right ahead and Contact Me Here. Or you could email kerry@kerryannenelson.com. I would love to hear more about what you do, and how I might be able to help you transform your business into the Freedom Machine you have wanted all along. Let’s establish a proven system in your business to create team certainty and sustainable expansion which open pathways to the lifestyle choices you’ve worked so hard for. No matter where you are, I am only a message away.

Protecting What’s Most Important To You

3 MIN READ

Yesterday began in a most bizarre way. I was lying asleep under my snuggly doona when suddenly, blaring sirens shocked me to alert. At 5am I jumped out of bed to evacuate. I put my dressing gown on, grabbed a few essential things and got down four flights of stairs as quickly as possible. I joined my apartment block neighbours in collective curiosity and confusion on the side of the road. What was going on?

Today is the anniversary of my late husband’s passing. I always dread this day. Yes, the memories of the 14 years I shared with him are a blissful treasure. But on this day, I remember just how gutting it was to find that he had died on our kitchen floor when I was at work. The 28th May will always be a sombre day where the significance of the loss hits me hard.

Leading through loss helps to cope with chaos in crisis

5am Kensington Melbourne. 27th May, 2020.

The experiences of these two days have created a mash-up of me thinking about how we protect the things we hold dearest. I hope my reflections today make you stop and think about how you would fare if the unthinkable actually happened. How well are you set up to deal with unexpected tragedy?

I know it’s a dark question, but every day thousands of people are forced to deal with unpredictable loss. You can’t know what will happen in your life, but you can do some smart things now to minimise the impact of sudden crisis.

Prepare Your Documents

There were easily 50 people who watched the fire engines roar down our street in the early hours of yesterday morning, but I was the only one who had my identification and other documents bundled up in a folder. I’d grabbed that folder, my phone and my wallet on the way out. If our apartment building really had burned down yesterday morning, I don’t know how we would have coped with the loss. But I do know that I would have had my essential documents and ID with me.

FOR YOU: Gather up your papers into one folder and keep it somewhere handy so you can grab it on the way out the door in case of an emergency. Include your original birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, court order docs, your will, and master password to your password software. Also include certified copies of these so they’re ready if you need them for insurance claims or other post-crisis business.

Work In The Cloud

It would have been handy to have grabbed my computer yesterday morning, but this wasn’t essential because all my work is stored in Google Drive. I do have some things stored for convenience on my desktop, so if I lost my computer I would lose those things. However, everything stored on my desktop is also stored in Drive. If I lost everything to a fire or flood, I could still log in to my cloud storage, or my other online accounts and keep working. I would be devastated by the loss, but important things would still function.

FOR YOU: If you don’t have all your personal and professional matters organised well online, you are long overdue for an overhaul. Create folders for each business department to store all your business resources in logical places. Set up spaces to manage your personal things too: photos, health records, contracts and agreements etc. Keep building out the infrastructure you need to create safe, secure places for the information that will keep you afloat, even when the unexpected happens.

… oh! And secure everything with encrypted password protection. We use 1Password.

Insure Well

I don’t own the building I live in, so I would lose my rental home if it burned to the ground. I would also lose my possessions, but I am insured well so I could set myself up again. It would be hugely painful to lose sentimental things that can never be replaced. That would hurt, a lot. But I could buy another car and furnish another home. If something happened to me (heaven forbid), my children would be financially looked after for many years to come. The plans for my funeral are stored in Drive and shared with my 22-year-old daughter.

FOR YOU: Review your insurance policies to make sure they are up to date and your coverage is adequate. Be certain that you will have what you need to pay for new contents, medical care, or even a funeral if it’s needed. Also confirm that your loved ones will not be left with a financial burden in the unexpected event of your death. If you’re not sure, seek advice.

I cannot emphasise just how deeply wounding the loss of a loved one is. It is a painful tragedy that will always hurt. The last thing you need when you are coming to terms with this type of devastation is administrative roadblocks. Set things up now so that the chaos can at least be managed.

I pray you never see the day that this advice made a difference.

But if it does, I want you to know how to cope best.

P.S. Just so you know, the entire affair turned out to be a false alarm. There’s a faulty sensor in our basement that needs to be fixed. I hope they do it soon. Not keen on repeating this experience any time soon.

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If this article has struck a chord with you, please go right ahead and Contact Me Here. Or you could email kerry@kerryannenelson.com. I would love to hear more about what you do, and how I might be able to help you transform your business into the Freedom Machine you have wanted all along. Let’s establish a proven system in your business to create team certainty and sustainable expansion which open pathways to the lifestyle choices you’ve worked so hard for. No matter where you are, I am only a message away.

A Message From Kerry

For the last couple of years I have been helping people to follow their passion by inspiring and motivating them with my talk and my social media posts, by coaching them, and by sharing my own unfolding story. It has been thoroughly enjoyable and I have been told frequently that I give people hope. This is an opportunity I will always be grateful for.

There has been a change coming though. Over the course of 2017, people have been indicating what they need to follow their passion by asking me this one question, again and again and again …

“How?”

“How do I follow my passion?”

I have come to realise that it’s one thing to KNOW your passion, but another thing entirely to know what you actually NEED TO DO to follow it and activate it in a transforming way, day to day. The penny dropped for me recently when I saw it clear as day. I know how I have followed my passion, and I can teach people how to follow theirs the same way.

I still help people to follow their passion, but now I teach them how I’ve done it myself. I create manuals for everything and then use these manuals to inform my daily activities. All of the steps in these manuals have managed my emails, my social media, my administrative work, accounting and superannuation, site management, event organisation, networking activities, speaking engagements, filing and data management, email campaigns, publishing my book, and all sorts of projects on the run. The steps in the manuals are turned into action by scheduling tasks in my calendar, setting reminders in my phone, and managing my work flow with project management software. The steps are customised. They are unique for what only I need in my business, and they document everything that I need to do to transform my personal passions into my actual dream life.

 

 

Kerry Anne Nelson Business Process Genius: "A Message From Kerry Blog" 0412 898 363

This year I have changed tack. Instead of simply telling people they can fly, now I show them how

These manuals also allow me to manage my team. Whether they are full time, part time, casual or volunteer support, each of them have their tasks clearly communicated in manuals just like these. It is the set and forget method that literally shoots me through my business growth journey faster than a speeding bullet. It is THE answer to the “How?” question that people keep asking me.

I am a born organiser with a highly strategic approach to bringing my passion to life. I have used these methods to do some amazing things … I still pinch myself some days when I stop to realise that it’s all true. Since May 2014 I have systemised my progress to:

  • manage all of the horrible jobs of my late husband’s passing
  • restructure the website business I used to share with him
  • establish pricing rules to increase the amount our clients spent on our website by 10%
  • rebuild warehouse processes of stock management, inventory control, order fulfilment, workflow
  • train new staff members from scratch in brand new business software and systems  
  • get that old business out of debt and sell it for a profit
  • establish myself as an inspiring speaker and social leader
  • write my book and publish it myself
  • open and manage an event venue called Our Place Melbourne in Camberwell
  • launch Melbourne Inner East Business in Heels branch  
  • launch several different programs and business building sessions
  • launch a business meetup group and attract strong support from members and sponsors alike
  • triple the connections across my social media networks in 6 months
  • create a full, comprehensive site management manual
  • train new on site staff and my remote assistant in different new systems, software and processes
  • mentor business clients through the creation of their own business building systems

I am a trained teacher with 8 years of classroom experience in primary, secondary, tertiary and special education settings. I have nearly 20 years of experience in business, having built businesses from scratch in service and retail industries across online settings as well as traditional bricks and mortar shopfronts. I love nothing more than to work alongside people to teach them how to empower themselves to build the structures they need for their own personal and professional growth.

Please message me today if you would like me to help you create a total business transformation. We are not talking about small tweaks or adjustments here. Together, we will conduct a complete overhaul. We will redefine how you do things to create entirely new routines, experiences and outcomes. When we do this, you will have choices that all stem from having more time. You might choose to add more team members, begin a new business project, or scale your business to new growth. You could choose to sell your business now, because you will have the support documents that you need to demonstrate its worth, and facilitate the handover to the new owners. You might simply choose to go home on time, reclaim your weekend, or even enjoy a long overdue holiday.  Your business will never be the same again.

Food for thought, right? What if it could be different? What if we could make it better, together? What if it worked? …

I know this works. It worked for me, and it will work for you.

Message me today to get started.

Growing Pains

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

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

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

Facebook Official

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

“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.

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.

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.

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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!

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?