I Close My Eyes and Jump

angel-81392_1280Goodness gracious what a week!

I had always imagined that when days arrive that will change my life, they would be huge and dramatic. Maybe fireworks and heavenly choirs, marching bands and trumpets, a boom or two of thunder and lightning splitting the sky.

But what really happened was an unprecedented overwhelming wave of peace, and then deep, deep inside I heard a quiet, loving voice say very firmly “No, enough. It is time now”.

And the decision that had to be made wasn’t scary. I have no doubts about the way forward, and indeed it seems to be the most natural, normal thing in the world.

So, what actually happened is that this week I resigned from my well-paid job to devote my life to coaching and training, to helping people get happy (and therefore successful) quickly and easily, and to have fun doing it using a combination of comedy and cutting edge science (for those that don’t know me I’m also an actor and comedian).

Just to re-emphasise, on Tuesday I had a six-figure, relatively safe government job, and now, after I work my notice, in about 3.5 weeks time I’ll be working for my own business Elegant Concepts Group.

What I’ve done goes against all conventional wisdom. Women my age (52) find it increasingly difficult to get decent work in the corporate sector, and those who tread cautiously would say that it really isn’t the time to be striking out on one’s own.

However, here’s the crux of the matter; for the past 30-odd years – most of my working life – I’ve been suppressing who I really am in order to fit into the ‘corporate box’. I’ve been living a double life; appearing on stage either in theatre or comedy in the evening and by day I’ve been hiding my true passions to fit in with everyone else, and in the process I’ve been exhausting myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have also been disappointing myself for not standing up for whatever oddity I feel I must be.

I have often looked with envy at people who love their 9 to 5 jobs and wished for some of the peace of mind they seem to have. But maybe they too are hiding their passions in some way to fit in with what our society asks of us. I know that for me, as I’ve got older, it has been increasingly difficult.

And then I had the health scares of the past couple of months (see previous post) to bring me to very sharp awareness of the fragility and transient nature of our time here on earth.

The key has been a question of alignment. I’ve been out of alignment and not living my values, and yet that is what I ask my clients to do, to live according to their values. How can I ask that of them when I haven’t done it myself?  That non-alignment has probably been at the basis of my health and stress problems. I can hear my old Scottish mum’s voice in my head “Ye cannay be the servant of two masters.” And that’s why I’m now giving up on one and following, with such a happy heart, the other.

I have the advantage of a fabulously supportive husband, my lovely Steven, who in his own quiet way has been pointing out my fierce defence of this middling stance for some time. And now I’ve stepped out of no-man’s-land and made the commitment he is with me all the way.

So, here goes. The countdown is on. I have my methodology and content that I want, no – need – to deliver, my products for individuals and corporates are almost ready, and even in the past few days opportunities have opened up that I would never have even noticed before. The Universe responds.

I close my eyes,

I take a big breath, and

JUMP!

What Looks Like the End is Actually the Beginning

adelaide sunsetLast week I had a rare privilege. I got to see what it could be like if my life was coming to a close.

It was all a bit dramatic – I wasn’t feeling good after a bout of pneumonia and my GP took one look at me, slapped me on the surgery’s ECG machine and called an ambulance.

They strapped me to a gurney, wheeled me out into the car park and into the ambulance, hooked me up to oxygen and a machine that went ‘beep’.

I felt like a right pillock.

The emergency department was an education. Busy as hell, the guy two cubicles down was telling a mental health worker very eloquently and very graphically about how he was tired of his psychoses and how he would just like to kill everyone please. Shortly afterward he tried to ‘go out for a walk’. It took six security guys with ropes and chains (I kid you not) to haul him back and restrain him. They’d worked up a fair sweat by the time they were finished.

The man across the way was on the gurney because his hip had dislocated. His wife came in to see him. He sounded like a real gentleman until the doctors left and the good natured charmer turned into quite something else. If he had spoken to me the way he conversationally abused his wife it would have been his jaw that was dislocated. Just like Big Ben he had a face for every direction.

Who needs a telly when you have live drama happening all around?

Anyway, I digress.

There I was, now hooked up to another machine that went ‘beep’ and with a cannula in my arm for easy extraction of blood and the process of waiting began.  I had plenty of time to think. What if it was a heart attack, the thing they were testing me for? I had a family history of heart disease so I am in the risk zone. What if I had come close to it being the last day I saw?  I tell you, it fair pulls your life into focus and the things that matter most become very, very clear.

All of a sudden I saw the folly of my hesitation over certain things, the short-sightedness of my tolerance of other things and the stupidity of trading in dreams for security. When you’re at that threshold (or you think you might be in the hallway that leads to the threshold), here’s what mattered most:

  • The people I love
  • The dreams and plans I want to realise
  • The hope that I’d made some contribution to make the world a better place for my presence (which is really a combination of the first two)

That was it. Nothing more mattered except love, connection and contribution. Outside of the context of these three things money meant nothing – everyone looks the same in a hospital gown.

Love, connection, contribution.

Message received.

Nuff sed.

 

The Effort of Doing Nothing

Its good to have a place for some mental downtime
The Thinking Chair

My very writing of this blog post is one big ol’ piece of irony.

I’m actually contravening what I’m writing about, in writing about it! Let me explain.

The topic of this post is giving yourself permission to do nothing. Today is Sunday, it’s a sunny afternoon after a period of gloomy rainy wintry weather.

I’ve been working hard in the past few weeks with plenty on my mind to mull over. Today is an ideal opportunity to sit down and look at the blue sky, feel the (relative) warmth of the sun on my skin and just take the time to take a breath.

I know intellectually that this will be very beneficial for me; it will give me some headspace and recuperation, it will help me be calm and it will take me back into the now.

However, inside, there’s a slight feeling of panic at the thought of not doing anything, not achieving anything, not being productive. So instead of using this time wisely I’ve written this blog, attended to some correspondence and booked flights and accommodation for a trip. That’s all well and good but the truth is that  it could all be done tomorrow without suffering any setback.

I’ve become so accustomed to being busy that I’m losing sight of why I’m being busy. Busy-ness for its own sake is ridiculous – it’s a pup chasing its tail, its treading water – plenty of action but not much progress in the long run.

Mental downtime is essential for the proper functioning of our minds in the same way that rest helps the physical body recover. It’s not rocket science but, boy,  I do need to do a facepalm now and again just so’s I follow my own advice.

The sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and my thinking chair awaits.

Checking out for now to take my own advice.

Have a great week!

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The Best is Yet to Come

It has been a while since I’ve blogged again. It has been another time of great change, learning and processing. I’ve begun studies in Coaching and even in just the pre-intake learning, I’m learning so much about myself, about why I do the things I do and how I can take control of them, that I am very excited to be able to take this and so much more forward for the people I currently work with and those I will help in the future.

It’s one of those phases in life where it feels I’ve come home, even though I’ve never actually been here before.

It’s just the same as when I began studies for my degree in Communications, way back in the dark ages of 1985 where there was no such thing as a text book for PR and we learned it from a guy who’d been doing it since the 1950s!

At that time I also felt that I’d come home – the material was exciting and I was discovering new things about myself that I didn’t know I could do. I understood it all so easily and I was fortunate that it translated into a series of great jobs over the past 24 years.

And now my job has changed and I’m more in the business of people, and here I am discovering these studies about maximising the potential of people! And it feels like I’m in my 20s all over again, discovering new worlds and enthusing about it all to anyone who will listen (you included, dear reader!). I feel like a kid in a candy store, with so many goodies to learn about and apply to both myself and anyone who wants my help.

I started my Elegant Souls page on Facebook a few months back. I knew I had managed to improve my life beyond imagination over the past 17 years, mostly through self-taught principles, self help and spiritual books of the New Age flavour. Here’s the passage from Elegant Souls that explains its raison d’etre:

“In August 1994 I was married, eight months pregnant, in a dead end job and a one bedroom flat in Glasgow.
Then one morning I answered a knock at the door to find a policeman with a warrant for my husband’s arrest. My life was in shreds, and the other lies I uncovered that day tore it down even more. I was at the lowest point of my life.
Now in 2012 I’m living in the country of my dreams, in the house of my dreams, in a fantastic marriage to a great guy. I have wonderful friends, I have enjoyed creative and financial success and at age 50 and three quarters I reckon its time I put something back by showing others how they can turn their lives around like I did mine.”

I knew I wanted to help others, and I knew I needed help above and beyond my supportive family and husband. I contacted the lovely Linda Chaousis and she agreed to be my mentor and help me explore the pathway forward.

I came to realise I wanted a methodology behind what I did to help people to short circuit some of the laborious paths I’d taken. I did some research and came up with probably the best coaching school in Australia, The Coaching Institute. I’m totally in tune with the school’s ethos and look forward to completing my studies with this fantastic team.

I’ve started coaching already – both at work and in my out-of-work life –  and I’m looking forward to a trip to Melbourne soon to spend some time with my instructors and fellow students.

I’m now 51 and a bit – the time in my parents’ lives when they were winding down to retirement and settling for whatever they could have. Not me! I’m stepping out into the most exciting time of my life yet – the best is yet to come.

Woo hoo – what a ride!

Gratitude – The Law of Attraction’s Rocket Fuel

I have a fabulous friend and mentor, and when we get together our discussions around everything from business to peoples’ potential and metaphysics can really take us to places of new discovery.

One such discussion took place a few weeks ago that really gave me food for thought. We came around to the subject of  gratitude, and how, when we’re looking to bring about or manifest a situation, if it is visualised in a general atmosphere of gratitude then it tends to lend the whole exercise a power that’s not there without that mindset – I’ve started calling it Rocket Fuel for visualising!

And it’s great to know this, that it works and it can really power a visualisation, but how does it work? These were the things we were discussing when I realised the answer – currency and vacuums!

No, not money and carpet cleaners – let me explain.

When I was a much younger student of Tai Chi and Chi Kung, our Grand Master would teach us that to properly breathe deeply we must not begin on the in-breath, but on the out-breath.

He explained that we need to expel as much of the old air from our lungs as possible, and just when you think it’s all gone, then use your stomach muscles and diaphragm and perhaps even bend over (as in some of the Chi Kung exercises) to expel even more.

This space becomes a bit of a vacuum which then assists in drawing a larger proportion of new air in when you take your big in-breath. Try that two or three times and you’ll actually feel quite giddy because your body isn’t used to all that fresh air – its used to a good proportion of the old stale air.

The other aspect of our discussion about gratitude led me to thinking about energy. Energy isn’t stagnant – it needs to keep on moving to be effective, much like an electrical current.

And that’s when it struck me – conscious gratitude is an outpouring of positive energy from your being-ness to either a specific (God, the Universe etc) or non specific target (the world etc). Where it goes doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the mood and movement of the energy, and that outpouring of positivity then creates a space, like the lungs empty of expelled air.

And because like only draws to like, it creates that space specifically for positivity to enter, and that’s how it rocket fuels your visualisations.

The great bonus of cultivating gratitude is that it has a side benefit – it puts us in a better, nicer and more positive space than we would otherwise be if we were worrying or panicking because if that is what we’re sending out, then that is what  we would get back.

So, next time you find yourself with an air of negativity of whatever type, put it to one side, draw out your gratitude and send it out, creating the space for more good stuff to come right back atcha.

Mothering Your Dreams

The theme of Mothers’ Day and the contemplation of what it is to be a mother, to provide nurture, led me to think about the act of giving birth when it comes to bringing our dreams to life.

There is the moment of fertilisation – that time when an idea takes hold and declares it’s possibility of life outside your heart and head, and from there it takes root. You cogitate over its potential, play with it, work out where it could go and where you would want to take it.

Slowly it grows and takes shape. It begins to have an identity of its own. You may give it a name. It gets to a point where it is so large in your mind that you have to commit to hitting the keyboard.

The first time you write its name on the screen or sheet of paper it seems oddly familiar – it has been living with you for so long that to see it stand there, separate from you, on its own legs, can be quite scary. You wonder – can it have a life?

You probably then continue to develop and grow this dream that has now morphed into a project or series of projects that you’ve devised to bring it about. You put in hours thinking about it and planning. It’s almost like having a love affair – if it really is based in  your passion you will lose  hours to it as you work away without it seeming like actual work. You will start to reference parts of your life to  it that you used to defend from any kind of work or career reference and it will become a part of who you are and what you do, whether it is named or unnamed, every day you walk the earth.

And then one day, when it and you are both ready, you’ll launch it. You’ll cast it at the feet of the world and hope they love it as much as you do, because it has become a part of you and what you’re really doing is putting that part of you out there for the judgement of the world. You’ll worry what friends and family will say if this is a part of you they haven’t seen before. You’ll worry that you will appear foolish or getting above yourself. You’ll worry that you fail.

But that won’t stop you, because it’s born of your passion and a  part of you that hasn’t previously had a voice, so relax. There is no failure, only feedback, and the only fool is one who doesn’t try to push their boundaries to see just what they can achieve.

Believe in yourself and in your dreams – they are your future. Nourish them, nurture them and whether you are man or woman, let the Mother in you birth them to the world. They are your contribution to your community, they are your legacy, and they will keep you sane when everything else seems a bit bonkers.

Stuffed Mums Strike Again!

 

How do I describe the afternoon I’ve just experienced?

Along with my Three Stuffed Mums colleagues Kate and Kehau I spent the afternoon at Goolwa, a small town south of Adelaide at the mouth of the mighty river Murray, and had the biggest amount of fun. We were there to perform a Three Stuffed Mums show as part of ‘Just Add Water’ – the Country Arts SA Regional Centre for Culture festival that takes the arts to the regions and for a year settles in and works with the people who live locally. A main part of the festival is that projects there should leave a lasting legacy for the community.

Three Stuffed Mums project was to perform our show there and then over a period of a few weeks teach and coach local mums in standup or other ways of telling their own stories with humour. Then at the end we’ll present a showcase with the women performing their work. Today was the show and we’ll conduct the course from May to July.

It had become plain to us that women these days can feel isolated in bringing up children, and that they might not realise we all go through the same challenges. We had women coming to our shows the past two years and saying to us afterwards “Thanks! Now I feel normal!”

As far as stand up goes, this show today has to be one of the highlights of my ten year comedic career. The feeling of over 200 people cacking themselves with laughter at you is rather heady, and even more so that they were mostly women  and they knew exactly what I was talking about.

I had a ball and so did everyone else. And now we have the opportunity to pay so much forward with the course – can’t wait!

Have a great week!