How getting Locked Up prepared me for Lockdown

“Can I get you to come with me please?  The Officers would like to ask you some more questions”. 

My heart sank.  I knew what this meant. My time as a Londoner was officially done. 

It was June 2019, my boyfriend and I were a month into our spontaneous Summer road trip around Europe.  We had jumped in the car from London, boarded the ferry and set off on a journey through France, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, and finally Switzerland.  We were camping and shimmying around on an adventure without a care in the world.   After four weeks of travel, my boyfriend was holding some events in London and Liverpool the following week.  We weighed up our options and eventually decided to drive rather than fly back to the UK for the week and then resume our Euro road trip once the two UK events were complete.   I felt a lot of resistance to going back to London which made no sense to me at the time. But I put it down to just enjoying our holiday and not wanting it to be interrupted. In hindsight though, it all made sense.

We had a ferry home to catch in the evening, and were easily able to drive to Calais in one day. As we pulled up to the Border Control booth at Port around 4pm, it occurred to me for the first time that we were about to cross the UK border.  Weeks of travelling through the EU had left me complacent – as you no longer need to stop and show any ID as you move through different countries in the Schengen zone.  

The young British officer spent a great deal of time looking at my passport, scrolling through her computer, then flicking back through my passport again.  I became increasingly nervous.   

It was then that her supervisor asked me to step out of the car and follow them in so they could “ask me more questions”.  I knew I was cooked.  I wasn’t going to be allowed to enter the UK that day, and probably not for a long time after that.  It would have been easier to handle if they had have just cut to the decision and let me go then and there.  Instead I was handed some papers that I signed without reading…  I saw the words “British Immigration Act” at the top of the first page and knew resistance would be futile.  I was then escorted to a tiny square cell, where I would remain for the following 8 hours.  During that time, very stern-looking officers would intermittently come in, ask me more questions, and then leave to “make further enquiries”.  And in those 2-3 hour gaps that they were “making further enquiries” the walls closed in tighter each time the door clinked shut.  

I had heard stories of people that have been imprisoned or detained temporarily, complaining about how distressing it is.  I always thought to myself “Oh toughen up princess, it can’t be that bad.  You’re safe, you’ve got food and water, and it’s only a short time”. My how the tables turned.  It’s something that I had never experienced until that moment – that total feeling of deprivation of liberty. Complete and utter powerlessness combined with the shock and suddenness of what I was facing.  I guess my guilty conscience ran wild too… “making further enquiries” … what does that even mean? Are they going to go through every record they can find about me and discover that in 2016 I might not have filed my taxes correctly, for example?  It was my first brush with any sort of trouble like this – I don’t even remember getting detention in high school.  The most I ever got in trouble was for the times I was laughing at other people’s naughtiness, not actually doing the naughty stuff! 

Eventually a very scary and serious looking officer came back in at what I would guess to be around 10pm and conducted the final interview.   Another, even more scary and serious looking officer sat behind him, and said nothing.  He just watched and listened with his scary, authoritarian presence permeating the room.  I assumed he was the big boss as he had three stars on his epaulets and looked like he might resort to old school torture methods if I didn’t tell him the truth.  When the seated officer asked me questions, he wrote down every answer I gave, often getting frustrated and telling me to slow down because he had to write every single word verbatim.  I had to bite my tongue from saying that Australian border patrol officers are much more courteous (an assumption I based purely on my extensive past experience of watching episodes of ‘Border Security: protecting Australia’s front line’), and given greater access to technology so their conversations are RECORDED instead of written down manually!  Something told me this wasn’t the time for smart-ass comments though.  

The final nail in my coffin was when he asked me “so… since your UK work visa ended in July 2017, what dates have you actually been in Australia?”  

I was like “well you know I had a couple of weeks here and um… three weeks there and … yes well that’s about it.” 

“So… you’ve basically been living in the UK for two years on tourist visas ever since?” Scary man at the back of the room spoke his first words, and they were very decisive. It was posed as a question but really it was more of a statement. 

I could have said “Yes!  Isn’t that great? I should get a medal for creativity and undetectability! I’d like to say a huge Thank you to the great officers at Stansted and Luton in particular for being so slack in letting me through each time without question, and an honourable mention to the introduction of e-Passport gates at Heathrow! That definitely bought me another few months of bonus time.  And so many amazing things have happened to me in these two years. I’ve started my online business, wrote a book about London, hung out with my brother, I was able to be here for Faith’s final days and her passing, I’ve travelled backwards and forwards to Europe, USA & Africa, I’ve written, I’ve created, I’ve shared great times with friends, fell in love and had two of the best years of my life.  I regret nothing.” 

Instead I mumbled “ahh, yep”… 

“Well since your work visa ended, you’ve been coming here consistently on a tourist visa, and you are no longer a genuine tourist, so for that reason we have grounds to deny you entry to the country today”… scary boss man said 

I didn’t argue.  I knew my time was up and I also knew that I had had a good run.  Whilst I hadn’t been doing anything illegal, I had been cleverly operating in a legislative grey area, and using the 6 month tourist visas in a way that they aren’t really designed for. I didn’t know why I had been consistently drawn back to London, sometimes it even annoyed me.  But looking back on the journey of the previous two years I could see that each time I was drawn back, something magical happened.  My soul knew exactly what it was doing. And every time I did get back in, I vowed to make the most of it, because it “could be my last time”.  I enjoyed and lived it to the max every moment I was there and never took a second for granted. 

They were satisfied that I was NOT a genuine tourist (which I obviously wasn’t, lol), but they were also satisfied that I had been honest in all my answers and everything that I had told them.  All their “further enquiries” obviously lined up with what I said. Despite spending extensive periods in the UK, they could clearly see that I had never worked illegally, had never overstayed any of the tourist visas, and also that I had filed my taxes correctly back in 2016.  Well they didn’t say that last bit, I’m just throwing that in so you don’t think I’m a total badass! In hindsight, my tax history wasn’t really their priority. I was denied entry that day, but wasn’t banned from future entry or handed any exclusion period – which was lucky. I was told basically to go home and if I wanted to return then I must apply for the appropriate spouse or work visa.  I had no intention of doing that – I know a sign when I see one, and this felt like the sudden, but natural, ending to my UK chapter.  I had friends visiting from USA that I had been looking forward to seeing that weekend, I had my room and all my belongings set up still in London, it had been my home for 4 years.  I should have been devastated, but in many ways, I wasn’t. 

So apart from indulging me in storytime, you may well be wondering how this is relevant to COVID and the lockdown we are all currently in or emerging from today? 

It relates to the degree of peace and trust I felt during that time in the cell, and the days following. 

If the previous four years – from the day I made the decision to move to London in the first place – had taught me anything, it’s that life happens FOR you, not TO you.  

You know how you might go for a job that you think you really want? Then you don’t get it, but a few weeks later an even better job or opportunity pops up?  That’s what I’m referring to here – just on a bigger scale.  I believe the Universe always knows what it’s doing – and the more that you can listen to and follow your intuition and guidance, and begin to flow WITH what it presents to you, rather than resisting against it, the more the magic happens. 

I was fortunate because in the few years prior to this turning point, I had been (semi-forced!) into trusting and surrendering in this way.  At first it was hard to let go of control. I had been used to micro-managing, planning out details and being so structured and organised.  A sense of knowing what was coming made me feel safe.  But it wasn’t until I began listening to my intuition more, allowing myself to follow the whispers of my soul (if it felt inspiring or expansive), that life really began.   

By June 2019, I had come to a place of trust – in myself, and in life.   

But no one can be expected to blindly trust or believe anything – unless you have experienced it for yourself firsthand.  I trusted because I had tested it time and time again.  Despite my resistance or fears, each time I took a leap of faith, or followed my gut; it led me to something amazing.   

As a result, apart from the shock of being suddenly detained (and denied the chance for saying my goodbyes and packing up my stuff in London!), I quickly felt at peace that despite my love for London, life was obviously moving me on for even better opportunities now.  Even though it wasn’t consciously what I wanted at that time, I felt strongly that this was a gift from the universe – not a curse.  I didn’t have to try to convince myself of this, it just felt natural.  So much so, that at one point the walls started to close in on me and I had a little cry.  As the emotion swept through me, I could feel my mind searching to make sense of it all.   

“I wonder what the gift of this is?” 

“Obviously I have gotten all I need from London, and new opportunities await now” 

“Yeah and this will make a great story one day!”

Even in that moment, despite my human emotions, I had a deep knowingness that all was unfolding in perfect divine order.   

It wasn’t HOPE that I had, it was TRUST. 

Following my time in detention, I went back to my beloved Croatia (pictured!), then on to adventures in California, Bali and India before coincidentally returning to Australia just prior to the pandemic. I still miss London all the time, but I know that I will go back and visit one day, and that it will always feel like ‘home’. 

What this, and other (much bigger) challenges I’ve faced, have shown me is that: 

When you face adversity, when you face your fears, when you are forced to confront whatever it is that lingers and keeps you awake in the night, once you’ve been there? Not only does that fear dissipate, but you build resilience, strength and most of all confidence.  Each time you go through something shit, and then bounce back, you become less fearful in general because you have been taken to the depths of your fears and therefore been able to access the depths of your own strength and resilience.  

Some of the most challenging times in my life have been when I’ve accessed my greatest amounts of strength, courage and spirit.  

Once you find out what you are made of? You never forget. 

Many people around the world now, are being faced with their biggest fears and challenges…If that is you? Don’t be disheartened – you might look back on this time in the future and realise it was when you discovered new layers of courage and resilience that you never knew existed.  This can help you rebuild with stronger foundations than you ever had pre-COVID.  You will also realise your innate ability to ADAPT.  This skill is often underrated.  Think about how different your life is today than it was 12-15 months ago?  Give yourself some credit for how you’ve adapted to this new normal.  So many aspects of your daily life are drastically different.  And yet you’ve found a way to get up every morning and crack on and you will continue to adapt as life evolves again. Once you’ve “rolled with the punches” enough times? You don’t fear future “punches” in quite the same way, because you’ve become better at rolling with them. 

For us in Melbourne now, we are fortunate to be enjoying a relatively normal life, but the memories of a strict extended lockdown last year, are never far from our minds.  I was chatting to a lovely couple at a wedding on the weekend and they were sharing how tough last year was for their family.  Juggling both careers and two young children at home.  She said something that really summed it all up: “compared to last year, everything is a breeze now and we just feel so grateful every day.” 

And I want to leave you with this invitation now… to fast forward in your mind a few months/years to when you have come out the other side of this, to when you can do all the things you love again, when you are in a job you love, whatever it might be.  Because life doesn’t happen to us.  We are not the victims.  We are the creative directors… Yes the universe plays a part and dishes up certain things – but the more you can look at what is happening and appreciate the gifts, the blessings, the lessons and the SIGNS of divine guidance, the less you will feel powerless and fearful.  One of my all time favourite affirmations is “The Universe is constantly conspiring to support me”… pretty good way to switch your mindset, don’t ya think? 

And don’t forget, that adversity is the most powerful breeding ground for opportunity & growth. So let’s get growing and creating! 

Here’s my Christmas Gift to You…

I know that normally Christmas presents come stuffed inside a Santa sack, hanging from a hook. 

But not this one.  Instead of hanging something on the hook this year?  I’m letting you off it. 

I’m not sure if it’s because of the crazy year we’ve had, or just a collective consciousness theme at the moment, but I’m noticing a lot of clients being really hard on themselves… can you relate? 

Going over old actions, conversations and relationships and beating themselves up for what they could have done better. Feeling bad about themselves because of how life has beaten them down during 2020.  Some are even holding on to shame or guilt for things they did as a CHILD! I know, it sounds illogical, but the here’s the thing… the ego and inner child don’t really give two shits about logic most of the time 😉 the Inner Child has an amazing ability to take something that happened in the early years, make it mean something about them, and then run with that theme, embedding it into the subconscious for the rest of their life.   

That is until they come across a subconscious-belief Ninja like myself.  Shining a light on it and pulling the weed out from the roots, before it has a chance to do any further sabotaging in the unsuspecting person’s life 😉  

And here’s the perfect example.  I was doing an Experiential Healing process with a client a few days ago and two of the things she still struggles with today are perfectionism and always trying to do the right thing by everyone else.  When we dived into the process and traced it back to the root cause, what emerged was that at age 6, her parents separated.  She did, what children commonly do (because they don’t yet have a well-developed logic/reasoning) and felt that it was somehow her fault, or that she had contributed to it and in some way could have prevented it.  As a result, her inner child made the decision that “I wasn’t a good enough little girl for Mum and Dad to stay together”, which then led to further decisions of “in order to be loved and feel safe, I must do more, be more, give more, and make sure everyone around me is okay first”.  You can see how this then goes.  As a result, she grows up running those subconscious programs and always wanting to be a good girl and do the right thing by everyone else, rather than honouring or considering her own needs. That early decision she made of her not being good enough has permeated into her psyche and acted as a silent driver of her behaviour ever since.  It’s great to do things for other people, but not when it’s being driven by a fear-based subconscious program.  I think we could all agree that when you give because your heart is full and you just want to, it fills you with so much more joy than when it comes from a need to be needed or lower vibrational state.  When she looked back on this event, she never realised she took on that blame for her parent’s separation, because as she looks back on it today, she sees it through the adult filter (which applies logic and reasoning).  But as we know, the child doesn’t have that.  They experience things and personalise it to mean something about them. 

But not everyone has a Ninja on call, and especially not during the holiday season, so here are some things you can do to go a little easier on yourself as we head into the New Year: 

  1. Start by switching the internal dialogue from what have I not done well, to “what have I done well?” What can I acknowledge myself for? What can I be proud of myself for? Sometimes even just surviving can be an achievement in itself. Start looking for ways to acknowledge yourself, making lists of your good qualities and reminding yourself of all that you’ve been through. Make a list and check it twice! 
  1. Continue to tune into your inner dialogue (“voices in your head”!) and pay attention to any negative or perfectionist thoughts.  
  1. If you are really aware, you can begin to look at those thoughts and trace back where they came from?  Did someone say that to you as a child? Did you overhear someone say that about someone else as a child? See the Ego is VERY GOOD at figuring out how we should be in order to be loved, and expert at keeping us on track to be (or at least seem to be) that. Even the way we are taught Santa is “gonna find out who’s naughty and nice” just illustrates the good/bad programming. 
  1. Forgive yourself!  Whatever you haven’t done well in the past, let it go.  And also, if you did things that weren’t great? Well, you were doing the best you could with the consciousness and tools you had at the time.  Let yourself off the hook!  Holding on to this, or continually punishing yourself for past actions, is unnecessary and not productive for you – or anyone around you! Also was it even really yours to begin with? 
  1. Be clear with your intentions and check in often.  These days, I find it super important for me to be clear in my intentions, that way you can be sure you have the highest intentions and there is no room for fear-based programs or motives to sneak back in.  It doesn’t mean they won’t try, but you will spot them straight away. By doing this, I have found it super easy to keep moving forward in my own authenticity and integrity.  If I create something and it’s not perfect, or I make a mistake for example, I always come back to “well what were my intentions?” and usually my intentions are to help more people live a joyful and inspired life, so if I make mistakes along the way, I can easily forgive myself because I know in my heart now that I am coming from the right place and that as long as your heart is good and your intentions are good, then mistakes can easily be forgiven!  If you are trying to sell something because you desperately need the money then you have a fear-based (scarcity) program running and that will be clouding an otherwise pure intention to help people. 
  1. PERSPECTIVE. Some people do TERRIBLE, terrible things in this world.  Trust me, I listen to a LOT of crime podcasts.  I know.  And so often these people do these terrible things and don’t give it a second thought.  They often don’t wallow in shame or guilt or remorse.  (Not always obviously, and no judgment on them as many of them have had horrific lives themselves).  But the point I’m making is the contrast of “good” people making minor mistakes and beating themselves up terribly.  I speak to people every day that I can see have a BEAUTIFUL PURE POWERFUL heart and a loving spirit, and yet they carry fears and beliefs about not being good enough, not having done enough, not being perfect enough.  They beat themselves up and allow themselves to continually play small and stay safe, rather than allowing themselves to be truly seen for who they are. 
  1. No one is perfect.  Not even me (SHOCK I know!).  I can be very, (very!) impatient.  I used to judge myself for it, now I understand that it just comes from my fast mind – and if they are a package deal then I can accept that.  Get to know yourself.  It is truly the greatest gift you can give yourself this Christmas.  Once you know yourself, you understand yourself, have greater compassion for yourself and can easily discern between what’s yours and what’s not. 

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and NY.  Let me know if this resonates or if you have any questions.  See you in 2021! xx 

Gratitude

Like meditation, the idea of practising Gratitude, is no longer something that draws funny looks or raised eyebrows.  Even in amongst the chaos of 2020, being “grateful” has become quite mainstream.  As awesome as it’s sudden rise to fame is, with that can come a lot of confusion, so I thought I’d share my take on what Gratitude IS – starting with what it ISN’T 😉  

Gratitude is NOT burying your head in the sand, and ignoring your current reality.   

It’s 2020.  COVID has struck.  For a lot of people right now, day to day life is a bit shit. Gratitude isn’t about pretending it’s not shit, but instead shifting your focus to the things that you can enjoy/appreciate/celebrate instead – no matter how small they are.   

I think that being honest with yourself about how you’re truly feeling is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.  Often when people come to me for advice, this is the first place I suggest to start.  If you wake up in the morning feeling sad, lacking motivation, and a bit down in general, there is nothing to gain from plastering a fake smile on your face and pretending to yourself that everything is “fine”… like “NO REALLY I’M FINE”.  It’s inauthentic.  Not only are you lying to yourself, you’re stopping yourself from accessing your true feelings, and therefore you are suppressing what longs to be expressed.  This will probably just build up and come back to explode on you at a later date FYI.  But not only that, when you are not being honest with yourself, you are also not being honest with the people around you, and that creates a disconnect between you and your family/friends.  Sooo many people I know are expert level when it comes to suffering in silence… 

And the crazy paradox about this is?   

When you allow yourself to actually feel your feels, you can move through them SO MUCH QUICKER.  You know I hate clichés, but “what you resist, persists” is one of the truest 😉  

I used to be so good at pretending I was fine all the time.  It wasn’t for other people’s sake (not that considerate!) but more that to me being in the negative or heavy emotions was uncomfortable.  I love it when life is light and fun and joyful and breezy.  Rainbows, unicorns, butterflies and lollipops? Count me in!  But feeling sad or stuck or frustrated? Yeah nahhhhh. I understand now though how powerful it is to be so aware of my current feelings – yet without any judgement of them.  

But anyways, I digress.  Back to gratitude and here’s a light-hearted example of how it can smoothly wind it’s way into your daily internal dialogue… 

Me: “Week 4 of lockdown.  It’s a bit shit isn’t it?” 

Also Me: “Yep. I miss my friends, I miss my niece and nephew.  And I realllllly reallllly miss the gym”. 

Me: I get it, this is a crazy ass time to be alive… some might even say UNPRECEDENTED. I mean not us, we would never use such cliché terms, but some people definitely would. 

Also Me: Yep.  And some days I feel really motivated and other days I just don’t feel like doing anything! 
 

Me: I hear ya.  That’s pretty normal.  Most of the fun things have been taken away.  But we know that every cloud has a silver lining, the universe has got your back, all is exactly as it should be etc etc etc… so what are some of the blessings to come out of all this? 

Also Me: Oh loads.  I live, work, and study just a few metres away from the kitchen which means snack frequency and proximity is at a career high.  I can’t go to the gym, but I can walk endless laps around the block!  And not being able to travel has given me all this time to fine tune my book and set up some solid foundations for my business! Now that you mention it, it’s really not so bad. 

Me: Wow, looking at you jumping on the gratitude bandwagon 

Also Me: Oh and I forgot to mention that when I go for walks and a really good song comes on in Spotify, I can sing and dance a little bit as I walk and no one knows it’s me behind the mask! 

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I find that instituting a daily practice of gratitude can really help to subtly switch your mindset to a more empowered, optimistic state.  Some days your gratitude list might be pages long.  And other days the best you can come up with is a letter/parcel finally arriving from Australia Post.  Actually, that’s a poor example.  At this point in time a delivery from Australia Post would be nothing short of miraculous.  I’m currently waiting on a Parcel from Brisbane that I ordered 4 weeks ago.  The usual transit time is 3 days.  When that does finally arrive, I will be SO grateful (and overjoyed), there’s a high probability I’ll go streaking naked around the neighbourhood (wearing a mask and pre-8pm curfew though obvs). But on a rough day, your list might just have something as little as “enjoyed a walk in the sunshine”.  It doesn’t have to be “won $80million in the lottery”.  But if it is, let me know your tricks – I’ve been trying to manifest that for years 😉  

I like to think of at least one thing that I’m grateful for every night before going to bed.  I mean, some times I forget.  Because I’m so busy from all the ISO snacking and hibernating, but most days I remember.  Over time it shifts from being something you do to tick a box, to just becoming part of your daily mindset. 

And the best thing?  Once you start looking for things to be thankful for, your ability to find them increases exponentially.  It’s the fastest way to raise your vibrations.  You no longer feel a victim to your circumstances as you start to embody the idea that life is constantly evolving FOR you rather than happening TO you.  Sure, the lessons aren’t always exactly what our conscious mind would choose, but my experience has been that they are always for your highest good. 

Would LOVE to know about your experience with gratitude.  Do you have a daily practise? Has it helped you over the years? And any questions, let me know 😊

Meditation: Why there’s no such thing as doing it wrong

If I had a penny for every time someone has said to me over the years that they don’t know how to meditate correctly, let’s just say I wouldn’t need to buy a ticket in tonight’s $80 million Powerball. 

Meditation is, funnily enough, the second most frequent thing I get asked about.  (First is how to self-publish a book – which I kind of fluked – so still don’t really have all the answers to!). 

But here’s the thing.  So much of life is about doing, giving, creating, making, fulfilling, achieving, etc.  What if you approached meditation as simply time for being and RECEIVING?  

From early on, life conditions us to believe that there is a right and a wrong way to do things.  But the good news is, there is no place for that in meditation. You cannot do it wrong.  Our daily lives require us to be in our heads so much, that many seek to approach meditation with that same action or goal-orientated approach.  I see meditation however, as the opportunity to get OUT of your head and into your heart space.   Here are some pointers for getting you started (or re-started 😉) 

See it as an exploration 

Meditation is a very personal, individualised process.  What works for someone else, might not be what works for you.  Similarly, what works for you one day may not work the next day, week or month.  Learn to be okay with the inexact science of exploration. 

“Thinking” during meditation does not mean you are doing it wrong! 

I went to the gym yesterday to do a final workout and attend meditation class before Melbourne re-entered a 6-week COVID lockdown at midnight. The teacher started the class by saying: 

“THINKING IS NOT A HINDRANCE TO YOUR MEDITATION.  THINKING THAT THINKING IS A HINDRANCE TO YOUR MEDITATION, IS THE HINDRANCE TO YOUR MEDITATION.” 

As soon as she said it, I was like YES!  I had a (socially distanced) chat with her after the class and she told me it was one of her favourite quotes too and that she nicked it off some other cool Yogi guru who’s name she couldn’t pronounce. 

So if you find yourself “thinking” during meditation, maybe that thought needed to be heard? And it wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to be heard if you had been rushing around busy all day?  The human brain is a very active thing, and the aim of meditation isn’t to get it to stop (that could pose serious problems!), but instead to be present with yourself, and ultimately go further within.  When I first started meditating over 12 years ago, I was hyper-aware of my overactive mind, and spent most of the guided meditation kicked myself for not listening properly, or getting distracting by my thoughts.  Being so acutely aware of how ‘wrong’ I was doing it, prevented me from getting much out of it.  Once I learnt to love and accept my active mind, instead of trying to judge or control it, it became easier and easier to allow it to quieten down.  These days, I can get from my busy mind down into the stillness of my heart in less than a minute and just using my breath… but it has taken a little practise to get to that point.  

Meditation is the gateway 

As I mentioned earlier, meditation is the access point to get from the busy-ness of the mind to the peace and quiet of your heart space.  For those that have never felt what it’s like to be in your heart space, the best way I can describe it is a feeling of complete connection to the innate love and wisdom of your soul and therefore the universe/all that is.  I know, for some of you this might sound a little woo-woo.  I would never expect anyone to believe anything without first trying it for themself, so my invitation to you is simply to keep an open mind.  Being in this space for me feels like peace, expansion, love, connection, and inspiration.  I also feel a much closer connection to my Angels and Spirit guides.  The quietness of the mind allows the volume of your intuition to be turned up, so it’s no surprise that this is where I receive the most clarity and intuitive insights.  I never make important decisions without consulting the inner world first. 

This is the part where I come clean and admit that quite often I will listen to a guided meditation, with no intention of following the meditation.  The one I went to at the gym yesterday was a 45 minute class, where she guided us through a body relaxation meditation.  I couldn’t tell you a single word of what she said after the 5 minute mark.  At that point, the space, her words, and the intention was enough to create the gateway for me to quickly and easily move into the inner world and block out whatever else was going on around me.  However, in the early days, having the structure of a guided meditation really helped me to become more comfortable and familiar navigating that inner world.   

But what if I fall asleep? 

You wouldn’t be the first! They have done numerous studies of people that have fallen asleep while listening to hypnosis or meditation tracks and found that the sub-conscious mind still registers the words and receives the benefits anyway.  How good?  You are probably likely to get a different sort of experience staying awake vs falling asleep, so I wouldn’t recommend sleeping 100% of the time, but even just knowing that if you do fall asleep, it’s still having benefits, is a huge plus.  

Getting started 

A good place to start is to experiment with different guided meditations.  Try to find one you like, but don’t be too worried if you can’t follow every word or feel your mind wandering.  Also, in my honest opinion, there are a LOT of average ones out there.  I get the most out of meditation time when I have the freedom and space to get in touch with my soul consciousness, so someone constantly talking can be annoying.  These days, I enjoy putting on some relaxing, high vibe music – I find it way more effective and less distracting.  But again, it’s different for everyone, so find what works for you.  YouTube has a plethora of meditations and relaxing music tracks, so there is no shortage of choice. And remember, it’s not about doing it right, achieving something, or getting to a destination.  It’s about allowing yourself to receive more peace, love, guidance, and a sense of calm in your life.  

You might even find at first, that you don’t feel any profound shifts or great benefits from meditation, and start convincing yourself that you have somehow found the way to do the impossible and meditate “wrong”.   Hang in there, you are learning to connect to previously un-known parts of yourself, and it is worth persisting.  In the very least, you should be experiencing some of the physiological and stress-busting benefits of taking some quiet time out for yourself too.

I look forward to hearing your experiences with meditations and any specific things that have worked for you 😊 

YOU are gifted

(and why you may not have realised it yet…)

My love for education and learning began almost 20 years ago – when I was still a kid myself.  In the time since, I’ve taught at a University, in Primary schools, businesses, worked as a sports coach, life coach, nannied, tutored, and mentored people of all ages… 

And no this isn’t a post to toot my own horn (that’s coming later 😉).  In all these years of working with a variety of children and adults, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing such diversity of individual gifts and unique abilities/aptitudes. 

I’ve been in a classroom where a 7 year old drew one of the most epically amazing things I’ve ever seen.  I looked at what she created and knew full well that I could probably practice every day for the rest of my life and never get close to being as good as that. 

I’ve met a 10 year old so skilled with a basketball, that he looked as if he’d been born with it in his hands… 

I’ve worked with people that are gifted with music, sports, intellect, technology, artistic creativity, intuition, business acumen, etc. 

And over time I started to notice a pattern… 

Most people, truly underestimate the epic-ness and power of their unique gifts. 

Its not due to modesty.  Well, I mean sometimes it is … the idea that it’s better to downplay our talents than it is to toot our own horns (clearly that memo never passed my desk!) 
 
But no, it’s more than that… The crazy thing is that most people have no idea just how much of a gift or talent they have … 

But, why? 

:::::::::::::::::::::::::  Because it comes so naturally to them  :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: 

I’m sure you’ve all had experiences where you’ve seen – let’s just say for example – an artist, complete an incredible piece of work in a short period of time.  You say to them “Wow, that’s amazing, you’re very clever!” 

And then they just shrug and say “Oh thanks, but I just threw this together in a few minutes, it wasn’t hard at all”… 

Well of course it wasn’t hard for you, you artistic genius, because this is your gift! 

So you can see then, because it comes so effortlessly to the artist, he doesn’t appreciate the amazingness of his own ability, and thinks it’s that easy for anyone to do it. But it’s not.

The same can be said for great writers, designers, speakers, entrepreneurs, athletes, number crunchers, programmers, and so on… 

So I invite you now to ask yourself this question… 

What is your unique genius/gift?  Everyone has AT LEAST one.  And if you can’t answer that question straight away, it doesn’t mean you don’t have one – you just haven’t discovered or fully embodied it yet 😉  

Not everyone’s gift is so straight forward or easily categorised like being good at sport or music or art…. 

Here are some examples of the gifts of people I know: 

  • Connection: organisinging amazing events and bringing together awesome like-minded people 
  • Innovation: give them a few months in a new company and they will soon be able to see infinite avenues for growth and expansion they could implement 
  • Engineering: inventing and fixing all things electronic from practically before they could even walk 
  • Intuitive massage: knowing the body so well that they can just ‘feel’ what parts need to be worked on 

Me personally, I have many gifts (toot toot!) – mostly useless and random ones – like if you put a jumbled up 9 letter word in front of me, my brain automatically unscrambles it without me having to consciously think about it … e.g. HUGSIDENT becomes UNSIGHTED quite seamlessly … I know… Very “Rainman” of me… and useful for not much other than my Sunday puzzles (and Countdown buzzer beaters!) 

One day mum said to me “Wow! That’s amazing, I could look at that word for hours and not get it.” 

I was like “well not really, my brain just sort of does it”… And then I remarked about how it’s pretty amazing that she can walk into an old run-down house and instantly see the vision for both the structural and design renovation in her mind’s eye to transform the property into something pretty special.  To which she replied “well yeah, but it’s pretty obvious really” 

No girlfriend, it’s not for most people! 

So anyways, I’m sure you’re getting the point… 

So off you pop now please.  Go spend some time with yourself, figuring out your gifts and unique abilities – these are clues to your Soul’s purpose and can be indicators to what you will gain the most success and enjoyment from in life 😊  

What skills do you have that other people often marvel at? Or what is an area that you have insights on that to you seem so obvious, and yet you can’t understand why it isn’t obvious to others? 

It’s time to start owning your gifts and recognising how they make you the unique and powerful creator that you are.  2020 is not the year to be undervaluing yourself or playing small. 

I’d love to hear some of your unique talents and gifts, so don’t be shy!

Just be cool

Remember those days when you tried to be cool?  When what the group was doing really mattered? When you tried to convey a certain image… hoping to be liked and accepted?

And maybe you’re still there? No judgement if so.

Luckily for me I was never very good at it, so my time of trying to be cool was pretty short lived.  But from what I remember… it was pretty exhausting!

I really feel for kids today with so much emphasis on social media.  At least when I was growing up (“back in myyyyy day”) we would only have to put our coolest foot forward during school hours and then could come home and retreat to our secret stash of Pokémon, frilly pink pajamas and a bedroom full of teddies.  Sure I was 17, but what I did in my own time was my business!

But in all seriousness, this meant that the pressure to be – or be seen to be – anything other than who you were naturally born to be, was far less. 

I’m not about to bash social media, because I happen to be one of those people that actually loves it.  It’s really helped me move around the world while still staying just as (if not more) connected to friends and family in all corners of the globe.  It’s helped me with my business.  It’s introduced me to wonderful new friends.  And most importantly, it’s allowed me to follow the growth, progression and journeys of the amazing people in my network.

But I don’t envy teenagers that are now entangled in their social webs 24/7 and unable to enjoy their Pokémon in peace.  Instead, they feel pressured to doll themselves up, put on their best trout pouts and post with #squadgoals so errrrbody thinks they are so cool.

It was only by default (i.e. my failure to fit the mould of “cool”) that I discovered the liberation and awesomeness from an entirely new concept… authenticity.

It felt so great to finally embrace all aspects of who I am… including my inner-grandma.  I realised in my late twenties that I was happier at home with a cup of tea and watching the latest episode of Countdown than I was going out clubbing.  Now maybe this is a slight exaggeration, or just a sign of my age… and I’m sure there are enough unfortunate witnesses that could attest to my (albeit short-lived) glory days of binge-drinking and partying til dawn when I was younger.

But the same goes not just for being cool, but the aspects of your personality that you judge to be bad or unpleasant.  Most of us figure out from a very young age which personality traits are “good” and which are “bad”.  This is why people grow up with what I call disowned parts of themselves …   an aspect of their personality that they would refuse to acknowledge or express because they know it to be “bad”.

Take for example a 5 year old boy who overhears his mum judging someone else as being selfish and how horrible that is.  As a result he makes the (totally unconscious) decision that he will never be like that (or allow others to see him this way), because if he does then he will stand to lose his Mum’s love.  As a result, he puts other people first his whole life but eventually grows resentful as the little boy in him starts to say “but what about me?”.

The process of filtering ourselves, putting our best foot forward, etc. begins at such an early age and can happens so unconsciously. If you have found yourself doing this, do NOT judge yourself!  As humans, from an evolutionary perspective, we are intrinsically wired with a “need for affiliation”.  Our desire to be liked and included as part of the group is a mechanism to ensure the pro-creation of our species… so it’s totally normal!

I’ve spoken about judgement a bit in the past and here is a recap of why you should embrace your authenticity and let go of your fear of judgment:

  1. SO… the secret about judgment is this: If someone does judge you, guess what… it’s not personal! They are actually just judging a disowned part of themselves that they either can’t accept or haven’t acknowledged yet (or both). The saying goes: “If you spot it, you got it”. Once you know this, it becomes a lot easier to not take anything personally 😉
  2. Secondly when you are 100% yourself, you energetically give every single person around you permission to show up as 100% authentically themselves too – so you are giving them all a gift without them even knowing  (#you’re welcome!).  Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, embracing who you are and being okay with people seeing you as you are, is a huge step not just for yourself but for everyone you come in contact with.
  3. And thirdly (my favourite)… although we are intrinsically programmed with a need for affiliation and desire to be liked, there is actually nothing more freeing than the moment the penny drops on the realization sinks in that when you are 100% authentically yourself, some people may NOT like it… but guess what?

    They
                    just
                                    aren’t
                                                    your
                                                                    people!!!

    If you spend your whole life trying to please everyone you will end up pleasing no one (including yourself) so make peace now with the fact that you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea… but the good news is that the people you do click with will be much more meaningful and fulfilling connections, and the days of wanting to be liked by the masses will long be forgotten.
  4. Everything in your reality is a reflection of your current beliefs, thoughts, programs, conditioning etc. so if someone says something that triggers you, ask yourself if YOU believe this to be true?  And if so, when was the first time you heard someone pass this judgment on someone else (or you)?  This will help you trace back where the fear started.

So off I pop now to gather my knitting needles and cup of tea.  I may never be cool, but I sure am happy and free!

I’d love to hear ways that you have embraced your authenticity, and as always drop me a line if you have any questions or comments.

Amber xx

Is that a shit-test I smell?

Today I am feeling inspired to share my insights on shit-testing.  We have all done this at times in our relationships – and often without realising it – with friends, family and partners.

Some of you may have heard me mention in the past the little champ I used to work with tutoring/home-schooling. I will call her Simone although this is obviously not her real name. When I first began working with her she had just turned 7 years old and her past was more harrowing than anything I could have imagined.  Having been removed from her birth parents home at a young age and then bounced around from foster home to foster home and facing the usual string of abuse, she had seen more than her fair share of trauma by the time I met her.  Just prior to this she had been told that finally a family were going to adopt her – a ‘forever family’ at last.  Heartbreakingly though, just 7 weeks in, and that family decided they just couldn’t cope with her extreme behaviour and backed out of the adoption.  Another cruel blow.  So when the next family stepped in to adopt her, she was even more on guard and ready to push them away before facing the next round of imminent abandonment.  Luckily this family were in it for the long haul and no amount of frightening behaviour was a match for their overwhelming love and acceptance.

While she was adjusting to the new family and location, she was not in school and I was given the role of being her 1:1 teacher every day in her home.  I had been pre-warned about some of what she’d been through and to expect violence and outbursts.  Surprisingly though. We got almost 2 weeks in with very little incident.  Sure there were times of defiance, requiring patience and negotiation as she attempted to control the situation and learning, but mostly she took to me really well and we had a great connection and understanding.

Fast forward a fortnight and as we sat down to do a standard maths game that she had grown to enjoy and without warning she leapt up and started scratching and slapping me.  At first I was confused as there was no trigger or confrontation immediately prior.  I could tell from the way that she was looking at me that she was doing it to see what sort of response she would be getting and how I would react.  I somehow managed to divert her sudden surge of physicality into a civilised light-hearted arm wrestle at the table.  As this was unfolding, I could hear in the back of my mind my years of experience as a teacher the warning of “under NO circumstances is it okay to touch or have any physical contact with a child”.  Despite my mind screaming at me to follow the rules, my instincts told me that she was fired up and an arm wrestle was the most harmless way to divert this sudden outburst.  It felt like any other action would have served only to escalate the situation. So despite my regulatory fears, I trusted my instincts and thankfully, it worked.  As much as it went against the rules, what I was facing I sure didn’t remember reading in any teaching manual either!

After the situation had de-escalated and I had debriefed with her Mum and headed home, I reflected on why this had happened.  My first thought was one of disappointment.  I thought we had been making great progress in our rapport – but maybe I was wrong?  Perhaps she really didn’t trust me or my way of teaching?  But once I got those unhelpful thoughts out of the way I was able to see the situation for exactly what it was – a shit-test.  Why was Simone shit-testing me in that moment?

It actually is quite simple and makes a lot of sense.  Part of her was ready to let me in and trust me at a deeper level now.  We’d had a few weeks together, she was starting to really trust me.  But she had clearly trusted and then been let down by adults time and time again already in her short life.  They had been nice to her but then as soon as she’d shown them her worst behaviour they had responded with anger, shame or just completely abandoning her altogether.  So before she was ready to fully let me in, her ego needed to know that I would still be there and not judge her or come with anger or shame no matter how she was showing up. 

The most priceless thing I was ever taught during my teaching studies, was to, wherever possible “give the child what they need not what they deserve”.

In this case it would have been easy to feel outraged by Simone’s behaviour, but the power and gift (for both teacher and student) comes with understanding why they are behaving that way, what they are secretly looking for, and then giving them that.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a fine line.  Obviously Simone and I (in partnership with her Mum) had a solid chat afterwards about appropriate behaviour and strategies in place for it to not happen again.  The behaviour was not condoned or accepted, but rather dealt with in a way that allowed her to see that no matter what she did, I wouldn’t be getting angry or abandoning her – which proved to be a very important step for cementing our student-teacher relationship.

So how does this relate to adults?

Well we all still have an inner child!  Even as adults, we still harbour fear-based programs or beliefs at a subconscious level that we formed during childhood. Here is an example to further illustrate:

Jenny had her Father walk out on and abandon the family when she was 4 years old.  As a result, she formed the belief and has been running the program ever since of “men are never there for me and will always leave me eventually”.  As a result of carrying this belief (totally unconsciously!), she has attracted situation after situation her whole life proving that program, with men never being there, abandoning her in relationships, friendships and so on.

Let’s just say Jenny is now 30 years old and starts dating someone new.  Having experienced that initial trauma of being abandoned by the masculine, she has then subsequently had relationship after relationship reinforcing that belief ever since. But this new guy… he seems different. He doesn’t seem like all the others and he seems really into her… it even feels like he could be The One that she has been waiting for all this time. But then just a few weeks into the relationship and the little girl within her starts to get scared…

Her internal dialogue starts throwing up things like “Well okay, this guy seems great, but this is a bit scary.  To let ourselves get in any deeper and then have him up and leave like all the others? That would be too painful.  Before we go all in, lets just run a few tests now to make sure he really truly never will leave and we can feel safe to trust in this relationship…”

And then the ego (still talking to itself) concocts clever (or sometimes not so clever!) plans to push him away.  Maybe it’s to treat him like shit and see if he still stays around, maybe its to start talking about exes or flirting with other guys.  All of these things are set out as a test to see how much he really does care and whether he will still stick around – even if you dish up your worst!   

Most of the time all of this is unfolding without Jenny having any conscious awareness over it whatsoever.  This is the power of the sub-conscious sabotage.  So let’s look at the potential outcomes as a result of this test:

  1. He reacts by getting angry at Jenny and shows a side of himself that she doesn’t like.  Her ego calls out “SEE! I told you we couldn’t trust him.  Just as well we ran that test now before we got any more invested”.  And then with relief, she dumps him. Her ego is happy because it was “right along about him” and now no longer has to face the potential pain of being hurt or abandoned again.
  2. He sees the side of Jenny that he can’t handle and as a result, HE dumps HER. Once again her ego calls out “SEE! I told you we couldn’t trust him.  Just as well we ran that test now before we got any more invested.”. it also reminds her again that all men will eventually abandon her.
  3. By some miracle he has the patience, insights (or low enough self-esteem!) to put up with Jenny’s sudden antics and passes the test. Her ego doesn’t leave it there though.  It says to itself, okay so you got past round 1, but that wasn’t the best I’ve got… wait til you see what other tests I have up my sleeve! And so the cycle goes…

Now this is an extreme example obviously.  Not everyone has the intensity of abandonment program that Jenny does, however many  do have variations of this program – and some even worse. This is why it is so important to truly get to know yourself, gain an understanding over your programs and beliefs.  Because simply just having an awareness of these (and therefore how you are subconsciously expecting someone to show up) is a massive head start to preventing these sabotaging programs coming in to play. 

I would invite you to ask yourself now, how do I push people away (in friendships or relationships?).  And whatever you do – remember that knowledge is power! Don’t judge yourself – you are only doing it through fear of being hurt.  But the more honest you can be with yourself, the easier you will find it to be aware of your own saboteur and therefore call it on it’s antics.  Once you have identified how you push people away, ask yourself what you are trying to protect yourself from by doing so?  Then follow it up with “when did I first form this belief and/or who’s voice is that I am hearing?”. 

In Jenny’s case she pushes men away by talking excessively about Exes and dishing up her worst behaviour to see if they will stick around.  She does this to test if they are going to push past her beliefs and prove her programs wrong (and thus showing her that it is safe for her to trust them).  The trouble with this is that as much as part of her is looking for him to push past this test, at a deeper level she holds such a strong belief around men ultimately not being there for her, that even If he does survive ‘Round 1’, until she gains awareness over her subconscious drivers, she will continue to run tests and create a reality that supports her underlying belief. Ultimately the little girl in Jenny is just trying her hardest to prevent Jenny from ever experiencing the pain of that abandonment again.

As painful as this cycle of rejection and abandonment from the masculine is, in a way it becomes comfortable for Jenny – as it’s all she’s ever known.  Not only that, but by keeping men at arms length and never truly allowing them in to love her, it allows the little girl in her to never have to face the stark reality that her Dad could never love her the way she wanted to be loved.  This is called the ‘ego dichotomy’… it does take a bit to get your head around that so I will go into more detail on that another day 😉

I look forward to hearing what insights or realisations you come to from doing this exercise and as always, give me a shout if you have any further questions!

Amber xx

Judgement

Judgement is a funny old thing isn’t it… we all have our inner critic that we often apply outwardly to others too. It’s cool… we are programmed to see things as good or bad from a very early age so don’t judge yourself for it!

People sometimes say to me “it’s brave that you share your personal and sometimes even vulnerable stuff in your writing, and aren’t you worried about people judging you?”

No I’m actually not anymore and here’s why…

1. SO… the secret about judgment is this: If someone does judge you, guess what… it’s not personal! They are actually just judging a part of themselves that they either can’t accept or haven’t acknowledged yet (or both). The saying goes: “If you spot it, you got it”. The perfect example is people who body shame or critique others physical appearances – they are usually the most critical and dissatisfied about their own bodies. Or the Boss who is super critical of their employees and puts any tiny mistake under the microscope – this is just a representation of their own internal dialogue and how hard they are on themselves.

This was first bought to my attention a few years ago and I have since seen it to be true.  When you realise all judgements are internal projections, it is much easier to not take it personally as in some ways it isn’t actually about you 😉

2. Secondly when you are 100% yourself, you energetically give every single person around you permission to show up as 100% authentically themselves too – so you are giving them all a gift without them even knowing  (you’re welcome!).  Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, embracing who you are and being okay with people seeing you as you are, is a huge step not just for yourself but for everyone you come in contact with.

3. And thirdly (my favourite)… although we are intrinsically wired from an evolutionary perspective with a need for affiliation and desire to be liked, there is actually nothing more freeing than the moment the penny drops on the realization that when you are 100% authentically yourself, some people may NOT like it… but guess what?

They
                just
                                aren’t
                                                your
                                                                people!!!

If you spend your whole life trying to please everyone you will end up pleasing no one (including yourself) so make peace now with the fact that you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea… but the good news is that the people you do click with will be much more meaningful and fulfilling connections and the days of wanting to be liked by the masses will long be forgotten

4. Everything in your reality is a reflection of your current beliefs, thoughts, programs, conditioning etc. If someone passes judgment about you and it affects you then I would invite you to ask yourself the following three questions:

~ does a part of me believe it to be true?
~ when did I first hear someone pass this judgment (on me or someone else?)
~ how does it make me feel?

The question about a part of you believing it to be true is an important one. If someone came up to me tomorrow and said “Amber, I think you are inconsiderate – you are always late and never care about how it affects others”…

Apart from the initial shock! I wouldn’t actually feel hurt by that… why? Because I know 100% in my being that that is not true and no part of me resonates with it…

However… if they came up to me tomorrow and said “Amber, you don’t share your French fries and it’s really starting to impact our friendship!” …

(All jokes aside) I would actually feel something around that that comment… because it’s true and I know it to be true! I mean sure it is a running joke amongst our friends (and now I perpetuate it so that I actually don’t have to share them ) but because it hits on something that I feel to be true about myself also, it doesn’t just wash off me as easily as the comment that I know to be completely false. I mean obviously now would be a good time to share sob stories about how fast my brothers ate as kids and why I felt anxious sharing food because if I didn’t eat fast enough then it would all be gone!  But really that’s a separate and irrelevant side story that does no justice to the fact that with Chef Lyn at the helm none of us ever went hungry 😉

But anyways my point is this… if someone says something to you and it impacts you, remember that everything is a co-creation and rather than pointing the finger back at them, I would invite you to take the opportunity to ask yourself the question if you do believe it? Even just a small part of you or at a deep subconscious level… Perhaps someone told you off for being lazy when you were 6 and subconsciously you’ve held on to the fear of that judgment ever since. Breathe in to your body as you ask the question and see what comes up – try not to pre-empt the answer or use your logical mind. You might be surprised what answer you get or insights that come up! And remembering – most importantly of all is how it makes you feel.

The more you can look within instead of biting back, the more you will begin to notice repetitive themes.  Remember that we are constantly creating our own reality as a direct reflection of our thoughts, beliefs, programs, conditioning, etc.

As they say, knowledge is power. No more is this true than in knowledge of yourself. Knowing yourself allows you to continue to grow and evolve into a more empowered and loving version of you.

But most of all, remember this:


What other people think of you actually has nothing to do with you…

UNLESS

It upsets or triggers you… in which case it is the perfect opportunity to get the awareness around WHY by asking yourself the questions above. 

Look forward to hearing your judgments of this article! 😉

Trust & Let Go – The key to finding your flow

On a recent flight from LA back to London, I got assigned a seat in the middle…. yep full squishy sardine style middle seat…

My fellow long-legged travellers will know the struggle is real when it comes to cramped legs on a long haul flight

Despite my preference, I never pay the extra to select an aisle seat. I opt instead for the more trusting (and cheapskate) option of just setting an intention to get “randomly assigned” one 😉

For the last however many dozen flights I can remember though, it has actually worked! So on this particular flight, when I didn’t get my way, I started to feel a little panicked.

Now these days, I am far from being a nervous flyer.  A few years back I went through a phase of binge-watching episode after episode of Air Crash Investigation which did trigger an almost crippling fear of flying (surprising much?!).  Every time I would hear a strange noise my internal dialogue would run to “what was that? Sounds like the landing gear hasn’t locked into place. This reminds me of Season 4, episode 9! Should I get into brace position now just in case?”. Or “there was a long delay before boarding… were they doing maintenance? I hope they tightened all those nuts and bolts properly!  Remember Season 6, episode 2 where the whole tail snapped off mid-flight and cut the power to the hydraulics?”

I know… super productive thoughts to be having mid-flight.

The reason so many people suffer from a fear of flying is because it is the ultimate in “letting go”, trust and surrender.  As a passenger you literally place your life in the hands of the Pilots & crew.  One of the core themes in my life in recent years has been letting go of control and being able to trust and flow.  It wasn’t until I worked on my need to be “in control” all the time (and stopped watching such scary plane crash documentaries!) that my fear of flying just dissipated.  

But on this particular occasion, I was definitely feeling a slight sense of anxiety rising up in me at the thought of a 10 hour flight crammed in between two strangers.

I asked at both the check in desk and the gate for a swap to an aisle seat but was told each time no dice because the flight was full.

I had set my intention but then got something different …

Then I tried to change my “something different” but couldn’t …

So at this point, I knew there must be a reason WHY I had been assigned that seat

I accepted this easily and prepared to board, almost excited to find out the why…

“Maybe I’ll be wedged between two gorgeous guys!” I thought, optimistically

“Maybe the plane is going to crash and seat 32H is where I have to be to survive!” I thought, morbidly (residual thought from my years of plane crash documentaries obvs!)

“Or maybe, someone next to me just needs some advice or a shoulder to cry on” I thought, much less selfishly.

I boarded the plane, shoved my bag into the overhead lockers and took my seat. I was joined shortly after by a quiet business-like woman on the aisle (MY seat!) and a much younger looking female backpacker by the window seat.

Interesting… I thought to myself

No Daniel Craig look-alikes or hunky men of any description, no one looking like they need advice or healing… guess that just leaves the plane crash theory for now?

We hadn’t even taken off and I was already 10 minutes into my first movie when I noticed the young girl by the window seat staring out into the distance. Is that a tear? I wondered (maybe a bit too excited that someone DID need my healing touch and therefore the plane crash theory was now off the table)…

It wasn’t just a tear, she was actually proper crying. I took some time to feel what she needed and whether I could help her. In my gut I knew she was feeling alone and would be open to chatting, but I couldn’t think of the right words to open the conversation without her feeling embarrassed. Eventually it came to me and I took my opportunity to make a joke about getting all the tears out now before the air conditioning dried her out. I know… totally lame but it did the job. Her sniffle turned to a half smile and her energy opened to me with relief that she was no longer alone…

For the following couple of hours we chatted about her recent trip, why she was sad to be leaving behind all her new friends, how her life will be changed and her fears of returning home. I shared stories with her and helped her recognize the perfection of everything she’d been through. There was no doubt we both got something out of our “seat placements”.

It reminded me once again that we are always being guided to be exactly where we are meant to be. These days I find it so much easier to just let go and trust in that. In the past I might have allowed my anxiety to escalate and as a result, not even noticed this girl needing some support.

Gifts can come from the most unexpected places. I know that “not getting an aisle seat” in the scheme of life is actually very trivial, but this example is symbolic of the bigger picture.  

Next time you find yourself not getting what you want (no matter how big or small it is), ask yourself the following question:

Why do I want it? i.e what does it mean to me if I do/don’t get it? This will highlight your attachment and ascribed meaning to the outcome.  From my past experiences travelling I had formed the belief that “If I have an aisle seat, I will have a comfortable flight, I will be able to sleep, get up and walk and go to the toilet without climbing over anyone, and not feel claustrophobically crammed in”. 

Having formed that belief (and subsequent attachment to the aisle seat), it is easy to see why I felt uneasy about not getting it.  My control mechanism to ensure I have a good flight was to get an aisle seat… but without that, I am in the unknown.  Maybe I will get really cramped legs, maybe I won’t be able to sleep and then get to London and be really grumpy and tired and not be able to go to Bingo tonight! Not to mention the dilemma when the person on the aisle seat falls asleep and then you can’t get out to go to the toilet (KARMA alert – that is normally me 😉)

Life has given me a lot of practise in letting go, so now it does come much easier and quicker for me to get into that place of trust and surrender than it used to.  I have also learnt that trying to hold on to anything out of fear usually just creates more resistance and tension anyway…

What areas of your life could you benefit from loosening your control on? Do you put restrictions in place around food, exercise, how you allocate your time, money, or even social interactions?

Don’t judge yourself though, everybody does it in different ways. Having control just makes us feel safe because it keeps us in our comfort zone.  Try challenging yourself with this – in small ways at first – and then notice how you feel and what it brings up for you.  As always I love to hear your experiences and questions, so let me know.

P.S. If anyone ever wants to know about all the potential ways planes can malfunction or crash, then you know where to find me!

The ‘F’ word…

I know, this is bold, maybe even uncomfortable for some of you.  But I’m about to drop the F word…

FAILURE

Well now that I’ve dropped it, we may as well pick it up and have a chat about what it means.  Grab yourself a cuppa and join me for a different perspective on what it means to fail, and why I actually believe there is no such thing.  And don’t worry, I’m not about to get all Tony Robbins on you and start fist pumping and chanting that Failure is just winning in disguise etc. !

At age 22 and in the final year of my Undergrad degree, it was time to start my applications for Graduate recruitment programs. I applied for 5 jobs in Accounting firms (yes I know… I forget that I used to be an Accountant too!).  Of these 5 firms, 3 of them were to the more elite ‘Big 4’ Accounting firms and the remaining 2 were to the supposedly more work-life-balance-friendly Mid-tier firms.  I felt the Mid-tier vibe was more my jam all along but wanted to go through the interview process with the Big 4’s to be really sure that I was making the right choice.

And so I did.  And this included a range of aptitude tests, interviews & various other ways to put you under pressure and see if you would sink or swim basically.

One of these interviews stands out in my mind.  It was PwC (one of the ‘Big 4’).  I sat there as I was interviewed by these people (I think in hindsight they were of the half humanoid/half robot species but can’t say for sure) and all was going well… until they asked me THIS:

“So, Amber.  Tell us about a time that you worked really really hard at something, you tried everything in your power to get it, but you failed.  What happened and how did you react?

And then it happened… something that had never happened in an interview before this nor since….

I FROZE

Deer. In. The. Headlights.

It wasn’t just that I couldn’t speak – I couldn’t think!  I was combing my brain as best I could to think of ways I had failed… I mean I had prepared for the questions like “so tell us your negative traits or areas you need to improve” and I had those covered to a tee with fake negatives like “oh you know Sir, I just work too hard” or “I’m just such a perfectionist and I won’t go home til the job is done and done RIGHT!” ….  I mean I had that shit covered… but this failure one? Really threw me through the proverbial loop.

I don’t even remember what I said when I did eventually speak. I think I had left my body at that point so as to not deal with the trauma of my sudden muteness.  I mean the funny thing was that I didn’t even want to work for a Big 4 – and especially not this one! But that didn’t mean I was enjoying the sudden downward spiral this interview had taken…

So the outcome?  I got offered 4 jobs out of the 5 applications… not surprisingly PwC didn’t throw a pity job offer at the ‘Girl who thinks she’s perfect and has never failed at anything’. Over the years it did irk me – not because it blemished my record but because I didn’t see why I should be punished for not being an outrageous failure! You’ve got to love the irony of me failing to get the job based on failing to answer a question about failure.

And then you wouldn’t believe what happened today (okay you will believe it, its not that crazy!)

For the past few days I’ve been at a Leadership Conference in Chicago.  During one of the workshops today, the Speaker asked the room THE EXACT SAME QUESTION about trying really hard at something and failing.  And what did I do? I went blank! Deer in the headlights

de

ja

bloody

vu. 

We had to do that super fun “share with the person next to you thing” and this lovely girl (a Neuroscience major from Alabama destined to change the world) was pouring her heart out to me about how crushing it was when she received her first C last semester… and when it came to my turn I hit that same blank I hit almost 12 years ago in the PwC building overlooking the Yarra river.  “Oh God, she will think I’m completely full of myself or in total denial if I say nothing, quick make something up!” my mind raced (where was this quick thinking back in 2007 mind you?).  I scrambled to concoct a story… “oh well I applied for a job that I really hoped I would get but then didn’t” I blurted out before she became suspicious of my long pause and got wind of my deer in the headlights look.  “Awwwwww” she said in her super sweet, super encouraging Southern American accent “ya know, I’m sure you’ll find something even better and more suited for you girl”.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that actually I work for myself and don’t plan to ever have a real job again!

Oh great, now she feels sorry for me, & I feel sorry for being a little liar, but at least that’s better than her thinking I’m in denial or full of myself…

“Right that’s it” I thought to myself as we sat back down and the Speaker carried on with her talk.  “I need to get to the bottom of this whole failure thing”.  Clearly I know I am not perfect and must have failed at lots of things over the years.  As I started to wrack my brain in the calmness of my own seat I saw flashes of not getting the best grade or wanting something but it just not working out, failed job applications, etc… but I felt very little emotion or disappointment around any of it & it was all pretty minor stuff.

And finally….

The

Penny

Dropped.

I had been taught from a very young age that if something doesn’t work out, then it’s because there will be something better out there for you.  Over my life this has always proved itself to be true and as a result of forming this belief, I have never actually viewed these things as failures.  Now that I am an “adult” (loosely defined!) and have combined this belief with my new understandings around trusting that all is working out for your highest good, I have even less fear of failure.

Failure to me is all about perspective and attachment.  There have been plenty of times when things have NOT worked out as I had planned or hoped, but ultimately it ended up leading me down the path of being exactly where I was meant to be – so how could I ever view that as a failure? Ultimately when you can get to this place of trust that you are being guided and are always in exactly the right place at exactly the right time then letting go does become easier.

Attachment though, is a reallllllyyyy interesting one.  If you do something and then it doesn’t get your desired result and you feel disappointed afterwards, then I would invite you to ask yourself the following questions:

What does it mean to me if I did get it? 

What does it mean to me if I didn’t get it?

This will highlight to you your ascribed meanings and attachments to whatever it is that you wanted so bad. 

Let’s take my example of going for a job (hypothetically let’s pretend I did want to be a responsible adult for the sake of this example).

What does it mean to me if I did get it? It might mean I can feel secure financially with the wage, I can feel important and validated in society, my family and friends will be proud of me (they would be more shocked than proud but stick with me lets keep this example as broad as possible!)

What does it mean to me if I didn’t get it?  That I will have financial insecurity and facing the unknown again, that I wasn’t good enough and therefore my family and friends view me to be not good enough too and therefore on some level I will no longer be worthy of their love.

So you can see that Fake Adult Amber actually had linked her attachment to getting that job with validating her in society and making her feel that she is good enough to get the love of her family and friends!

Then it’s really no wonder us humans get so crushed when we go for something and then fail! It’s not about the thing – it never was! It’s about the ascribed meaning that we attached to it.

I would invite you to explore this in your own life and for anything you find yourself really wanting – ask yourself those two questions and keep writing until you get to the deepest layer of what it means to you to have/not have it.  Sometimes just getting the awareness around why you have attachment is enough, but some times you will need to do some deeper work to release it (like using a Sayer Method Process).

Let me know what comes up for you and as always drop me a message if you need any guidance!

Amber xx