Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Power Of Not Knowing

This morning I had a 2-hour writing workshop planned with my co-author Jacqueline Harrison. We've got a book to finish and as we'd both had a busy week, today (Sunday) was the only day we were able to catch up.

I almost didn't go.

I've worked the last 14 days straight and yesterday I ran a mantra healing workshop, which pretty much took up my entire Saturday, so by the time I awoke this morning I was spent. It's cold and rainy in Sydney and I could easily have snuggled up under the covers and stayed in bed.

But I didn't.

I got up, rubbed my tired eyes, showered and dressed, and walked to Jacqueline's house for our weekly writing session. I was committed to our schedule and boy, was it worth it.

Being tired can be a physical and emotional state. Sleepiness (physical) and fatigue (emotional) can be difficult to overcome. An extra hour or two in bed, or an afternoon nap can help, but when we are committed to doing something with love, our emotional self livens up. The light that illuminates our heart flicks on and we gather energy that wasn't there before. The spark that makes us feel happy has the ability to override tiredness. Ask any new mum: the love for their child enables them to get out of bed in the middle of the night for a fifth, sixth and seventh time to tend to their crying baby, even when they can barely open their eyes.

My work is my baby. And I have a willingness and commitment to ensure its welfare, hence getting to Jacqueline's house this morning even though it meant arriving tired and soaked to the skin.

As adults we become accustomed to knowing things. By the time we reach 30, 40 and beyond we have a certain amount of life experience, which means anything new is filtered through a deep and vast memory bank. This vault of memories enables us to apply a new idea or task to a similar situation or lesson from our past. It's a useful tool. But there is a down side. Becoming complacent about having "wisdom" can mean we continually apply old patterns to new opportunities and as a result we cease to evolve.

Until recognising the above, I was definitely guilty of running new challenges through my old tape player and predominantly coming up with the same thing. For example: I would start a business, get it off the ground, get stuck, give up and start again with a new business idea.

By not not fully acknowledging my areas of naivety, I was blocking my own progress. Suffice to say, I wasn't necessarily stuck because I didn't have the skills to reach my goals: I was stuck because I didn't understand that I thought I knew everything I needed to know as opposed to recognising that maybe it's not about what I know, but how I apply that knowledge. I.e. being able to accept that although I am an intelligent and capable adult, maybe there is something about this situation that I don't understand.

As adults, we are programmed to believe that we are competent and capable – which is largely true. But by believing we "know stuff" we close ourselves off to the idea that we "don't know stuff", which ultimately leads to us missing the incredible lessons that life serves. We remain busy figuring out what we know about this or that, rather than approaching life with the wide eyes of a child.

Children lack foresight; they have limited experience which means new situations are figured out using their creative mind. As adults, we mostly call upon our logical brain to decode and analyse situations based on what has gone before.

By peeling away the need to be "right" and "knowledgeable", we actually open ourselves up to an incredible array of new experiences that propel us into a whole new world. This actually feeds the very thing we were unconsciously trying to protect – namely our intelligence!

Being open to not knowing is one of the greatest tools of expansion I have ever used. And it can be applied to seemingly ordinary tasks such as meeting a friend for coffee, visiting your in-laws when you don't feel like it, or walking in the rain to a writing workshop on a Sunday morning.

When we choose the notion of "I know nothing" we become open to new possibilities. In practical terms it means choosing a new path. If we do what we have always done, then our lives stay the same. If we cancel the coffee because we're tired, or call off the visit to the in-laws because we are too busy we miss out on having a new experience. We're coming at it from the place of "knowing". It's OK to cancel but ask yourself "Why?" Why are you not doing that thing? Had I chosen not to attend the workshop this morning because I was tired I would really have been saying "I know what is going to come from this session". But how can we possibly ever know?

I believe that coming from a place of "knowing" is sometimes an escape or coping mechanism that allows us to sit in our comfort zone. We can dress it up as a headache or exhaustion, but ask yourself: if that experience you are saying no to involved your favourite person in the world, the man or woman who makes your heart sing, or the celebrity you would do anything to meet, would you still cancel?

I doubt it.

Somewhere in you, you'd find the energy and the willingness to be open, and with that would naturally dawn an incredible sense of excitement. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I believe it is our "knowing" that can dull our experience. If we can relearn to apply a childlike openness to our life, then doors will open that we didn't even know existed.

And that's what happened today.

As I sat with Jacqueline, tired and shivering from the cold, my commitment to writing took precedence over my basic needs. In the past I would have probably rescheduled the session, stayed in bed an extra hour and considered that I was honouring my need to sleep. That previous attitude set a great precept for honouring my basic needs and I adhere to that as a principle.

But by stepping out of my comfort zone and allowing something that hadn't yet been created to evolve, Jacqueline and I experienced an exceptional 2-hour writing session that produced some incredible work and put a spring in both our steps.

Had I maintained my old habit of putting my physical health first – my "knowing what's best", I would have missed out on the golden nuggets that I experienced today. But by allowing myself 2 hours to "not know" and be open to whatever that delivered, both Jacqueline and myself have grown as authors and as human beings.

So the next time you hear yourself saying "no" or "I know", I invite you to consider something.

Maybe you don't.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Love You Too

An amazing thing just happened that I want to share.

My sister just told me to get off out of her life. To "leave her alone" to basically just f*ck off.

I'm actually still digesting this, and being as she has asked me not to contact her I'm respecting her wishes. But I also feel the need to express myself.

So, here's how it went. I sent my sister an email asking how she was. I mentioned how the last few times we've communicated she hasn't seemed to want to engage with me. To be fair, we are hardly close: she's my sister but we are about as similar as an iPad and a shoe.

She's been unwell for some time and my intuition was nudging me to ask if she was OK. Her answer? She's fine. Great! But I have to say, the remainder of the email made me question if that was really the truth, because she followed up by saying how she can't stand my "self-help speak" and if I'm going to talk about wanting to "engage" with her then she's not interested.

Call me psychic but I'm guessing "fine" might not be the whole story.

I'm not going to write about a lifetime's communication (or lack of) with my sister, but suffice to say I am amazed that someone would react to a caring email from a sibling by saying "please leave me alone".

Actually, I'm not amazed at all. I'm not even surprised.

I could write fifty million blogs about my family and how screwed up I think we all are, but what would that achieve? It would only serve as a way for me to get a whole bunch of sh*t off my chest and I'd have to name and shame in the process. Even if I didn't, it wouldn't take much to work out who I'm talking about, right? And there's always three sides to every story: yours, mine and the truth.

So what else can I do in this situation?

Well, I'm sticking with my latest theme which is Shifting Perspective. Previously, I would have responded to my sister's behaviour with anger, venom and a Supersized "F*ck You" right back. I would have released my inner dragon from its cave and sent it charging at her with forked tongue and fire. I actually used to be proud of the fact that I was the queen of F*ck You. I had the ability to take a man down with one look, and would practically behead people if they were foolish enough to cross me.

But that's not the case any more. And in fact, I'm not even having to curb those feelings right now because they're just not there.

Now that's amazing.

But this isn't about me sitting on a sanctimonious ivory tower, this is about recognising that someone is struggling to feel good and that deserves compassion. Even if they are saying they'd rather pretend I didn't exist.

We all have our demons and some people's are bigger than others. I'm lucky in the sense that I don't have a predominance for depression. Sure, I feel sad and blue, and struggle at times but even when life sucks I usually manage to see flickers of light. It's a gift that I am very grateful to have. The only down side to this is when I'm in communication with someone who is feeling depressed or glum, because they tend to see me as the most irritating human being on planet Earth.

It's not great seeing someone smiling when you feel like throwing yourself off the Harbour Bridge. And there is nothing worse than someone shining a light of happiness on your world when you're in a funk and believe that the world is sh*t and you just want to be left alone.

Depression is a very real thing that affects a lot of people. And when you're depressed, you're depressed. Nothing's gonna fix it, and that's a fact, right?

But what if that's not the whole truth? What if within the layers of depression there is a spiritual veil that masks our ability to see the truth? What if hiding our sadness is part of the problem? If being depressed wasn't seen as "imperfect" then would it be as debilitating?

I don't know the answer to that.

But what I do know is that last year when I went into therapy for the first time in my life (not a moment too soon), I experienced a black, sludgy cloak that soaked through to my bones and practically prevented me from getting out of bed for almost 4 months. My usual squeaky clean optimism was muddy and heavy. I struggled to work. In fact I made so many mistakes at work during that time that I was left almost jobless and I'm still recovering from that a year later.

When I was in the thick of it I could feel my optimistic self wanting to clamp down over the problem and take me off to the beach for a walk: It'll make you happy it said.

But I didn't go for a walk.

I sat in my bed, still and quiet. I allowed the feelings I'd obviously been suppressing my entire life to be felt. Feelings of rejection from men, feelings of abandonment and lack of support from my parents, feelings of pain from sexual abuse as a child, feelings of rage from a horrific car crash that left my friend dead and my boyfriend in a coma, feelings of f*cking up my last relationship, of hating myself for always running away, feeling the guilt of leaving my beautiful dog behind for a life of freedom. Feelings of being worthless and hopeless.

I felt them all.

I sat in their gloom, their self-pity and their filth and I ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had no idea how long they would last but I knew I had never allowed them to be really felt before. So I gave them a chance to be expressed, to come out of their dark corners and into the light. I was terrified that I would feel like this for the rest of my life.

As it happens, for me, the blackness only lasted 24 hours before the fog started to lift. I wouldn't say I sprang out of bed the next day, (in fact it has taken around 12 months for the healing to come full circle), but that sick and disgusting feeling dissolved after a full day of Allowing It To Be.

I came to understand that for years I had stuffed those ugly feelings down into the pit of my Being because I didn't think it was OK to feel like that. Having finally allowed them to be felt is now giving me the ability to have compassion for my sister where I wouldn't have had it before.

By allowing myself to express the "negative" and shadow parts of myself, I have found a brand new space that allows me to hear my sister shut me out, and know that there is still hope. And love. Interestingly, it is through experiencing my own pain that I am able to have more love for someone, who from what I can gather isn't able to love herself right now. And who would rather not have me in her life.

I have come to understand that it's OK to feel like sh*t. In fact, it's part of being human. And if my sister wants to tell me to get lost, then instead of throwing mud back at her, I will shine love on her instead. I'll respect her wish for distance and will use the power of positive thought to help us mend the fence between us.

I don't know if all my angry birds have gone just because I wallowed in my own crap for a year, but I do know that loving other people when they cannot love themself (or you) is a gift. And so I shall continue sending loving thoughts to my sister and maybe one day we'll both be free to tell each other "I love you" and really mean it.

And if not, then at least I have learnt to love myself enough to allow my fears and hurt to be accepted and felt by Me.

It would be the icing on the cake if my sister got the chance to experience that too.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Shift Happens

On Saturday morning at 5.30am I queued up with around 160 other people to embark on a new journey.

A Shift In Perspective.

The reason over hundred people were gathered at such a crazy time on a Saturday was to celebrate the reopening of the Lululemon store in Bondi Junction. At the start of the walk we were each invited to write something we wanted to release onto a strip of paper and burn it in a lantern before setting off on a short hike from Bondi to Bronte.

Wanna know what I wrote? "I release my need to be single."

When we reached our destination, we were handed another piece of paper and invited to write a goal or dream. I wrote the following: I am ready to step into the fear and stop avoiding the things I've been avoiding.

Finding Love would be a good start.

I recently posted two blogs Gone Fishing and Butterflies, Intimacy and A White Picket Fence about a guy I met online. I was excited to have met someone who had pep, and our communication certainly put a smile on my face. Until the contact from his end stopped – which made me stop – and question what was going on.

Well, it turns out, Mr RSVP hadn't received my email after all. Basically, due to a technology/human hiccup Mr RSVP hadn't activated his private email onto his smartphone until after I had already sent him a message. So that message never reached his inbox. Not on his phone anyway, which is what he was checking.

Once our techno faux pas was fixed, the communication was back on like it had been before. He sent lovely long emails full of wisdom and clarity. This guy's a catch I thought to myself. But then a funny thing happened. Well, not so funny, more warped really. Basically, I got creeped out by the whole thing and pulled the plug. I told Mr R that it was No Can Do.

The reason why I bailed on what could have been an amazing relationship is due to a couple of things:

1) As soon as it became clear that he actually hadn't seen my email and our connection was real, I got scared. What if This Is It? What if he is The One?

I didn't realise having an actual relationship was such a frightening concept to me. I honestly freaked out at the idea that someone had stolen my heart, and that I had met someone who could potentially lead to being someone I really care for.

2) The thought that if I met this guy in person and we don't click also reared its head. We had emailed each other a couple of "Selfies" just to show that the pics on the website matched the current real life picture. Now, let's remember these were Selfies, which anyone over the age of 30 knows are not going to show your best side. And second, I'm not exactly Gisele Bundchen, especially first thing in the morning when I look more like a smashed crab.

As soon as I opened the pics, I changed my mind about the whole deal. My unconscious mind suddenly had a reason to run. (I'll admit, the pics did change my view slightly, but I don't think that's really all that was going on for me.)

How does that relate to making a shift? I'm getting there…

When we make a shift in one area of our lives it can change everything. For me that shift has been the way I communicate with people. Jacqueline Harrison, who I am co-authoring How To Create A Business From Nothing with, has taught me a lot about business. One thing that has stood out from the moment she said it was about getting used to having awkward conversations.

That single note of advice has absolutely changed my world. And I'll tell you how.

For one, I no longer let things that make me cross get to the point where I resent the other person for not realising they are "doing me wrong" until my lid blows off and I get angry. What I'm finding these days is that even when there's tension and snippiness between myself and another person, I'm able to address the situation in a calm and comfortable manner. Most of the time, anyway.

And when it comes to telling someone that I'm just not that into them (even if I might be but am actually too scared to invest what it takes), I can at least express my fears in a civil and honest fashion. And that's really new for me.

For years, (despite having a reputation for being blunt and telling it like it is), I used to bottle some things up until resentment was overflowing and I'd lash out. It was usually over small things, but I didn't have the tools or resources to express myself very well. So I'd be blunt and angry and charge at the offender using my tongue as a sword.

At least now I feel comfortable that I can let people know if they have upset me, and that equally I can be clear about not wanting to take a relationship any further if that's how I feel. Intimate relationships are where I have struggled the most with the idea of free expression, because there seems to be so much at stake.

But it seems with one seemingly small shift in perspective, even the toughest conversations are possible. And not only are they possible, but they can be spoken with love and grace, even when you know they will hurt.

And that for me is a huge breakthrough.

I just hope that if the next guy I meet really is The One that I will have shifted enough of my sh*t to be able to actually embrace and accept him with open arms, rather than be pleased that I am now able to say "No Thanks."

All I can say is watch this space…

All Mouth And No Trousers

Last week, Jacqueline Harrison and I sat down to start co-writing our book How To Create A Business From Nothing.

As you'll recall from my blog You're On, the book was originally Jacqueline's idea, but after reading the first few chapters I approached her about writing this blog alongside her writing the book. And then after a few months of blogging I took another courageous step (for me) and asked her about us co-authoring the title (which I wrote about in Shooting For Gold). Last Friday, we had our first writing day.

Although, it very nearly didn't turn out that way.

Jacqueline and I had already brainstormed the idea where we fleshed out the book and gave ourselves a week to think about our individual input. When we met up last Friday I had spent the morning strategising and working through some of my ideas. I wanted to discuss them with Jacqueline so that we could determine our collective vision for the book, form a clear picture of who the reader is, and plot the chapters. I wanted to line up all the ducks so that we could get started.

Jacqueline on the other hand, just wanted to start writing.

"Well," I said, "Before we start writing we need to know who the reader is and what our purpose is so we can refer to that and stay on track." (You see, I know a lot about publishing; I've been doing it a long time…)

"Yes," said Jacqueline, "So let's start writing."

(Oh dear, she obviously doesn't realise how important all this stuff is in creating a bestseller…) 

"But before we get the words down I think we need to be clear about the angle and what we hope to achieve."

"Absolutely," agreed Jacquleine. "So let's start writing."

It was at this point (with maybe a few more buts from me) that I realised Jacqueline was less interested in dotting all the 'i's' and crossing all the 'Ts' and more keen to get some words down. This was going against everything I "knew" and my resistance was strong. Every cell in my body was saying We Must Have A Clear Plan.

Luckily, at least a few other cells had the wisdom to stop and listen. I considered the situation. Both Jacqueline and I have started businesses before, and writing a book is like starting a business. It's basically a product. In this situation I am the "book expert" but Jacqueline is the business expert and has made millions of dollars from her ventures. Meantime, I seem to have made millions of "buts."

In that moment I recognised that listening to Jacqueline and just getting on with the writing process could help me move closer to my dream of becoming a millionaire. I mean, I am doing what I've always done: making sure I "know" what I'm doing before I start (because I don't want to make a fool of myself or fail, right). So the very idea of just doing it and letting it unfold seemed to go against everything I thought I knew. But really, all I know so far is that my methods aren't working as well as Jacqueline's.


My way of operating could definitely do with a shake up. Sitting down to write, brought to light the fact that I've always thought of myself as a do-er, but am beginning to realise that maybe I'm not as proactive as I like to tell myself. Because here I am, wanting to figure out everything about starting our book before we start, which leaves the actual act of writing nowhere near close to happening. In my mind, we have so much to sort out before we can get moving, it's ludicrous to begin. Surely we are setting ourselves up to fail if we don't have an exact map of what, how and why?

But what if there's another way? An even smarter way?

Surely not, said my ego…

Mmm, until that moment, the idea that I was avoiding taking action was unknown to me. The doing part of the plan was sitting beyond my peripheral vision because in my view, the very act of talking about writing the book and planning how and why, was doing it! What I had been telling myself was that the act of actually starting a business, (or in this case, writing a book) was my version of being proactive. But what I hadn't understood was the fact that I Could Be Doing More.

I have to say, part of me is cringing because I can recall numerous conversations with friends where I have haughtily declared that I am a risk taker and soooo proactive that I wouldn't even know what procrastinating feels like!

Once I removed the BS-tinted glasses (and listened to Jacqueline telling me about how she also used to avoid making phone calls and talking to potential business partners – before making any money), I felt as though someone had just shone a light into my eyes. Admittedly I also felt an inner dread that I would now have to be "less mouth and more trousers" and Change My Ways.


Or not…


But if I don't then I'm looking at a future that involves many more business start ups and no extra income. In a nutshell, what I need to do is avoid avoiding!

After a day of writing, Jacqueline and I are now 2000+ words closer to finishing our book. If it hadn't been for my co-author's insight and experience, we might still be plotting and planning the Hows, Wheres and Whys and not even have a page of content. But fortunately at least one of us has learned the benefit of Taking Action. Because as Jacqueline says "Taking action produces results."

And she's right.

Plotting and planning, and understanding your competitors is one thing, and I won't argue is useful information when starting a business. But what's the use of a reader profile if you don't have a book (or product) to sell to them! All the knowledge in the world is useless if we have nothing to apply it to, right?

So, with this breakthrough I have made a new pact with myself (which I am terrified of because it means stepping out of my Comfort Zone and into the Fear Zone), but, I am committed to achieving my dream, so, from this day forth I choose to Take Action and Create Results.

And with any luck, if I do it enough, that million bucks might actually have a chance to find its way into my back account.