Facing fear: a conversation and discovery

Photo by Johannes Planio

Photo by Johannes Planio

All my heart wants to do is write, but I keep procrastinating and distracting myself with searching for stuff like a refillable purple pen so I don’t keep throwing out single use pens, and books, lots of books, because I love books and could drown in them.

The more time I spend searching, the sadder my heart becomes. I am not doing what it really wants to do. I am doing anything but, and the anything I am doing isn’t particularly meaningful even if I justify it with logic and reasons.  

I am scared.

Fear doesn’t want me to write that down. It becomes squirmy and slippery like an eel.

Fear doesn’t want to be inquired into. It has special protective powers like mind blanking. As soon as my conscious mind starts to inquire into fear it can freeze everything and wipe the slate clean. It’s a lot like being a deer in headlights.

Fear can try to disguise itself and hide but it can’t hide very well anymore. I have worked hard to cultivate my awareness and stand in my power so it can’t take over completely or for too long no matter what tricks it pulls.

But yes, here it is now, shaking and quivering around me. Every step I take closer to listening to my heart and writing what it has to say, fear gets louder and louder.

It pleads that I don’t do this, for I will be found out, people will know that I have nothing valuable or original to say and that I can’t really write. I will reveal myself as a fraud. And even if I do write, no one will want to read it anyway so I will waste my time and embarrass myself by even trying.

Fear says stay here where it’s safe, where you don’t risk failure, where you don’t expose yourself and make yourself vulnerable.

I pause and ponder, taking in all that fear has to say, and then I respond.

I can’t stay here and I can’t not do this. I have procrastinated and avoided the call of my heart for long enough and I have suffered.

I am parched and withered and dying a slow fruitless death docked to this wharf of safety but the waves keep lapping at me and the horizon beckons me to explore what lies out there beyond this safe mooring and I must go.

I may return and I may not.

I may find others to journey with me or I may ride the waves alone.

I may discover there are many people interested in the treasures I discover or I may be the only one who is interested.

I may discover riches or I may be lead into the realm of nothingness, just drifting in a sea of blue.

The bounty could be all or it could seem to be nothing.

None of this matters. All that truly matters is that when you hear or feel the call of your Soul, you answer and you go.

If you keep fixating on the world you see, if you keep trying to find your place within it, you will play too small and limited.

There is a whole cosmos of possibility within you. Say yes and discover it.

As for fear, well fear will take the journey with you. It may never leave your side.

It may always be the voice that pleads for you to return to shore where everything appears more steady and certain, especially when you sail into new unknown territory or face waves bigger than you’ve ever seen before.

But you can take fear by the hand and talk to it, reassure it that you’re here for the adventure and not the safe harbour, and remind it of the times you ventured into unknown territory and things turned out okay.

You may never be fearless but you may fear less and even discover how bold, and daring you truly are.

With love and courage,

Kym xx

The wisdom of your younger self

photo by J R Korpa

photo by J R Korpa

When you were a kid, did you ever write a story about what you would be or what your life would be like when you grew up?

I did. And I found mine yesterday as I was tidying up and organising our cupboards.

I pulled out my storage box of cards, letters and other papers and started poking through the contents and there it was among some old schoolwork that my dad had kept for me and that I had put away and forgotten: a typed up and illustrated story that I wrote when I was 7 or 8 years old, titled When I’m grown up.

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 Here’s what I wrote:

When I’m grown up.

When I’m grown up I will be a nurse. I will also be bigger. And instead of being a nurse, I might be an artist. If I am an artist I shall draw wild birds and wild flowers. When I’m grown up I shall get married and have children. I shall buy a house and get a pool, I shall have fun with the children too. I shall take them to the circus. We shall go on holidays. When I have finished being an artist, I shall be a ballerina. I shall go over the world as a ballerina. When I am a bit older I shall quit being a ballerina and go back to my own country.

                        THE END

(because when you’re young all stories must formally end this way.)

I giggled joyfully when I read it and studied the pictures which include a red-framed painting of the wild flowers I would draw when I was an artist, a self-portrait of me as a very happy pink-crowned, purple tutu wearing ballerina, and a picture of me and my future husband with orange hair surrounded by colourful confetti.

It wasn’t just the pictures that delighted me but the innocence of the story and although I never became a nurse or ballerina, and haven’t had children or bought a house with a pool there is still a very sweet truth that lives within those words that has played out in my life.

I didn’t know then but I would help to care for my mum from the time I was age 11 as her muscular dystrophy deteriorated her physical condition and she became bed bound.

I also used the qualities of the nursing in my financial planning career by trying to improve systems and cultures, to care for what is sick or ill or not functioning well and finding ways to bring ease and joy.

I am a writer and a poet. I also dabble in painting and pastels for fun. Coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally), my last two paintings were of an owl and tulips.

I have always loved being in water, from dad taking us to the swimming pool to beach holidays at my nana and papa’s house in Rosebud West.  Swimming, scuba diving, being in or near water is like oxygen for my soul.

My younger self used to love putting on her leotards and choreographing her own dance routines, especially to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I’ve never studied ballet or taken any other type of dance class for that matter except for line dancing and ballroom dancing that was part of compulsory physical education classes at school, but I have actually danced my way around the world: I’ve danced in Thailand, India, Bali, on boats in Indonesia, and I dance-walked parts of the Via Francigena in France and Italy —I dance-walked into St Peter’s Square when I arrived in Rome and completed my pilgrimage.

And yes I have come back to my own country. I’m living in Melbourne and not dancing all over the world at the moment but I don’t think I’m done being my version of a world-travelling ballerina just yet.

When I re-read my story of When I’m Grown Up, I can’t help but marvel at how my younger self easily and innocently dreamed up her life. She knew what she liked and what mattered to her and easily declared her willingness to follow her curiousity without second guessing herself.

Of course this was before all the seriousness of growing up and being an adult and having responsibilities and taking on ideas about what it means to be an adult and live a meaningful life took over.

Often we look to our older or future selves and even our higher selves for advice on how to live our lives and which direction to go, but I think that our younger selves have their own wisdom to offer that was gained before we unlearned our innocent ways and were taught how to succeed and fit into this world.

What wisdom does your younger self hold for you?
Is there something you forgot along the way to being an adult that you could pick up again that would bring you joy?

With love and courage,

Kym xx

Before you dismiss that crazy idea you have, read this…

Photo by Austin Chan

Photo by Austin Chan

Some 15 years ago when I was committed to my career and worked as an executive manager in a listed financial services company, I suddenly started feeling the urge to paint (as in art not house walls or fences.)

It was easy to dismiss at first as a “crazy” idea. I wasn’t great at art in high school. I got a C-grade in the last ever art class I took in year 8. That made it go away for a while.

But it came back, like a little kid tugging at my pant legs trying to get my attention.

Go away, I told it annoyed that it was there again.

I’m not an artist. I’m not good at art

And that made it go quiet for a while.

But it came back again and again and kept nagging at me no matter how many times I tried to dismiss it until it became pretty insistent.

So I became curious about this urge to paint and inquired within myself. Why was this urge here? What did it want of me? What did it want me to know?

I discovered that I didn’t want to learn the techniques of painting but that I wanted to explore with paint and have fun with it. Although I didn’t really understand why I had the urge to paint I stayed open to the idea.

Eventually I found an intuitive painting workshop just down the road from me. My inner painting urge (aka my inner child) was pretty excited about the idea of this workshop, jumping up and down with glee. Although I felt a bit scared and nervous, I signed up and went.

It was subtly life changing.

The intuitive painting course reintroduced meditation back into my life as each session started with a gentle breath meditation that I loved. It was calming, loving and kind.
I rediscovered my creativity. I had actually always been a crafty child.
I remembered how to have fun again.
I learned to risk making mistakes and that any mistake I made in a painting just helped the painting to evolve in a different way.
Most importantly, I reconnected with my intuition that had gone AWOL for a while as I had overridden and ignored it so many times with my fearful and rationalising mind.

Just like we can override and dismiss our inner callings, we can also override, ignore, dismiss or rationalise the unexpected opportunities that life presents us.

Here is a short excerpt from my book, The Path We Make: a journey of the heart on the Via Francigena—in fact it is the opening paragraph of the book.

 

“Oh no! I’m not interested in walking that far. Ever!”

That was my response several years ago when my employer asked me to join a team that would walk 50 kilometres to raise money for the Leprosy Mission. I can’t help but laugh kindly at that younger version of myself who scoffed at the idea and was adamant that she would never walk that far. I don’t believe everything in our lives is predetermined, but there are some things that life wants us to experience. If at first we turn our backs on those things or head in a different direction, life has a miraculous way of finding an alternative way in or choosing another way to speak to us so that we hear and understand. It calls us forward again and again to come down the path it wants us to follow, until finally we say yes and take those steps.

Sometimes our callings will come in the form of inner urgings, curiosities, recurring thoughts and ideas. Sometimes they will come as opportunities, invitations, signs and coincidences from the world around us.

Often we will push them away, ignore or dismiss them and/or rationalise why we shouldn’t pay attention to them because they are foreign to the life that we know and are currently living and we aren’t yet ready to accept them into our field of possibilities.

Sometimes they scare us and we might not even recognise we are scared.

Often they will keep coming back—especially the ones that really want our care and focus.

When something flirts with you or you become aware of some recurring theme, sign, thought, urge or other pattern in your life— pay attention and get curious. At first they may seem irrational, crazy, foreign, silly, out-there, nonsensical or irrelevant, but you also don’t know what rich gifts they have for you or where they may lead you.

I’d love to hear your stories about what has called to you that you have dismissed until you finally had to listen and say yes.

Leave a comment below or send me a private message. And if ever you want some support to explore what is calling you, I’m here. Just reach out.

Autumn blessings

Image by Timothy Eberly

Image by Timothy Eberly

 

Blessed Autumn,
you break open my heart
with your brazen beauty.

You ripple across this land
in shades of red, orange, 
amber, yellow and tan
until you fade
into the darkness 
of winter’s waiting arms.

You offer your bounty,
and I drink it all in
until I am satiated in bliss.

I could die right now
and feel content with my life.

Absorbed in the fullness
of this moment 
I know nothing I’ve strived for
truly matters, 
but everything I’ve surrendered to
has been richer in meaning
then anything earned.

Swallow me whole
and if you must spit me out
transform me into the golden light
of the end of days.

Witnessed by many or none
it does not matter,
my purpose will still be complete.

When your calling is scary and 3 tips to help you over come your resistance so you can just start

Photo by Ian Schneider.

Photo by Ian Schneider.

Today I have everything and nothing to say. So much has unfolded in my life in the last week.  There are so many things I could write about: the secret tricks of resistance, the gifts of cleaning up my act, the intelligence of the body, the unexpected joy of following a green mono-diet for the last week that was not hard at all contrary to what my mind had to say before I started.

My mind has been flipping between all the options I could write about, not sure which one to choose. So I decided to just start writing and see what emerges.

Sometimes you just have to start and see where you end up.

 The path isn’t linear or set in stone.

All roads lead to Rome. Although in years gone by, pilgrims may have walked the same route to Rome for safety and to access amenities, which is why it became the preferred pilgrimage route in the first place. There are in fact innumerable routes to Rome depending on which way you personally choose to walk. Your path is yours and yours alone. Don’t walk someone else’s (unless you feel called by your soul to do so.)

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I didn’t know I was going to write all that. It just came out as I was typing. See. This is this joy of turning up to a blank page to see what wants to emerge and be expressed.

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Sometimes we think we have to know where we’re going or how to do something or how it’s going to turn out before we start but the truth is we don’t really know until we start.  

So just start with a small step or if a small step is too much just a small movement or gesture.
Find your way.

On the weekend I bought and almost completely devoured Stephen Pressfield’s latest book, The Artist's Journey: The Wake of the Hero's Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning upon the recommendation of my women’s circle leader, Grace Funk of Priestess Your Life, who described it asa game-changer.”

 Similar to Grace, I have spent most of my life exploring why am I here? What are my gifts? And in recent years, what is my subject? What is the underlying theme of my writing? Who am I here to serve?

 I realise as I was reading that my writing has dwindled away (again). The poetry has stopped. My instagram posts have a sentence or two at most. Sometimes I journal. I write my weekly blog post…so that’s something.  But overall, I have been writing very little.

I don’t feel inspired.
I have nothing to say.
I have to focus on finalising and marketing my book.
I’m too tired.
I don’t know what I want to write about yet.
I’m not clear on the subject yet.

These are some of my most common reasons…I mean excuses…I tell myself that stop me from writing.

Yes…they stop me from writing which because I tell myself means I stop myself from writing.

 Guess what’s really at play here?

 Resistance. I’d write it in invisible ink if I could because that’s how it often shows up in my life.

Stephen explains that writing or creating requires that we go from Level #1 - our everyday reality into what he calls Level #2 -“that is the Unconscious, the Soul, the Self, the Super-conscious.” You might also think of it as the Universe or unlimited creative field.

 “Resistance is a min-Refusal of the Call” (to adventure, to create, to take a risk or specifically in my case to sit down to the blank page to write.)

 But why?

 It’s simple.

 “The Call is scary,” writes Stephen.

Resistance is “the terror the psyche experiences at the prospect of encountering the Self, i.e. the soul, the unconscious, the superconscious.” 

I’d also offer that the psyche experiences this terror when venturing into the unknown whether it be to go and walk a pilgrimage route on the other side of the world, quit your job without another one to go to, take on any challenge you’ve never done before where you risk failing or change your life in some way that the psyche fears may be irreversible.

Stephen says that the first skill the artist must learn is how to start.  However, he does not tell you how to start. This is something the artist must discover for herself.

 At the end of the day you must discover what works for you but I will share a few things that have worked for me:

1.    When I don’t know what to write about, I ask for inspiration

I discovered this early in my Via Francigena journey. I noticed that I had been receiving writing inspiration constantly as I was walking then one day there was nothing.  I heard nothing.

I asked the universe why I wasn’t receiving inspiration and a small quiet voice said I didn’t ask. So I asked and it soon came flooding in.

To ask is to open to receive.

2.    Grow your creative energy anyway you can

Dance, walk, cook, paint, draw, colour, write, sing, play, walk, take photos, make love, go to an art exhibition or a performance.

Do something that gets you out of your head, that is fun and makes you feel excited.

This weekend I got my easel and paint out for the first time in months and intuitively painted.  When I paint, sometimes I have an idea of what I’m going to paint but it usually changes as I paint, often completely such is the way the creative process works through me. I also “make mistakes” e.g. put paint on in a way that doesn’t match my expectations, but somehow I always find a way to cover it, change it, blend it, correct it, morph it into something new or accept it.

I loved my painting so much, I have called her Mary the Angel and framed her and hung her on the wall behind my desk to reflect back at me my own creativity as I work. I am now super excited to paint more. I even ordered a book on intuitive painting for inspiration and learning. This excitement is flowing over into my writing and other areas of my life.

Here’s Mary the Angel….

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Can you see the luminous lizard creature hanging around her head aura? Well that was unintentional (which you could call a mistake) but as one of the many things lizard symbolises is teaching us that there are untapped powers in us, I think it was divinely intended and created.

3.    Be curious

 High expectations are a killer. Take the pressure off yourself. You don’t have to create something perfect. You don’t have to get it right.

Just start with curiosity and see what emerges and where you end up. Maybe it will be a mess.  Maybe you will fail.

Or maybe it will inspire something else or another part of your life.

Maybe it will be truly amazing.

Maybe that’s the real fear here that your amazingness exceeds what you have previously known/thought about yourself.

You may still feel resistance. Fear may come up.

Just feel it and send it some love.

See if you can find the excitement in your body for creating, make it bigger and bigger in your body so that your excitement is greater than your fear. Your excitement will help you step over the edge again and again.

“The artist is not expressing himself. He is discovering himself.” - Stephen Pressfield

And isn’t that just it? We get focused on outcomes: achievements and progress and getting somewhere and making it some place. But the journey is about discovery and there’s so much to discover in this world, and especially within yourself in the short time we have here on this planet in this life.

I just started writing this blog unsure of my starting point or where I was going and it showed up as I wrote. This also happens to be the longest blog I have written in a long time, which could be good or bad depending on your attention span and/or personal preference [insert cheeky face emoji that doesn’t exist on my laptop keyboard so you’ll have to imagine it.]

In writing this, I have discovered more about myself, primarily that I’m actually quite clear on how to get myself out of resistance. I just needed to write it down to remind myself.

I’m also feeling the creative fire inside my heart burning even more brightly, a combination of writing this blog, creative cooking, and painting on the weekend that has triggered a whole heap of ideas for books and insights and clarity around what I’m here to teach in this lifetime.

 So what do you say? Want a make a commitment to yourself to just start? To have a go? To give it your best shot?

Your adventure, your art, your book, your poetry, your song, your dance, your [fill in the blank] is waiting to come through you.

I hope you’ll say yes.

With love and courage,

Kym

xx

PS If you need some help to overcome resistance, checkout how we can work together on my service page and/or send me an email to kym@kymwilson.com.au or through my contact page.

There's a poem in my heart that has no words

 

There’s a poem in my heart

that has no words.

What exists before silence

erupts into sound?

Is it a longing to create

or the creation waiting to be born?

It is the questions

that have more meaning

than the answers.

For now, I stay close

to the stirring in my heart,

slowing right down

to meet the essence of creation

that is always there

often shining unseen.

Sometimes it explodes into life

as an unexpected firework

that fizzles back into nothingness

like a falling star.

And sometimes it writes

steadily across a blank page

so sure of itself

that it wants to be tattooed

directly on skin.

Whether it takes permanent form,

disappears

or nothing emerges,

all is the gift of the great mystery.

Being here

whether there are words or silence

is to be truly alive.

The form does not matter

and the meaning does not require words.

Are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

Dear ones,

I am still catching up with myself after returning from Italy last weekend and celebrating my husband’s birthday this weekend. I’ve never been one to suffer jet lag. Usually a long sleep when I return is enough to get me back in synch. But this time jet lag hit me hard with a lot of brain fog and disturbed sleeping patterns for the last week.

Last week, one of my favourite poets, Mary Oliver passed away. In case you don’t know of her, Mary was an American and prize -winning poet, having won the Pulitzer prize. Her poems focused on nature, her relationship to it and a sense of wonder.

I am so grateful for her poems. Reading them drops me into my own deeper relationship with nature and my soul. They remind me of what is truly important. And often wake something up in me, helping me look at my life and the world around me in a different way.

The beauty of Mary’s poems is that often they are a mediative container that opens you to the one line you really need to hear.

One of my favourite poems is, “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches.” Whilst I would love to share it with you here, copyright laws prohibit this.

In the three pages of this poem, there is one line that has always stood out to me as a guiding star:

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

Sometimes I breathe shallow to avoid deep feelings.

Sometimes I feel like I get stuck on the surface of life unable to dive as deeply in the outer world as I do in my inner world.

Sometimes I get distracted from what really matters to me.

To me, there is an urgent reminder in this question. Life is short. Don’t waste it. Don’t get stuck pursuing things that don’t matter.

Although the question has a yes or no answer, in my mind, it is really asking, if you are breathing just a little, how can you breathe a little more deeply? How can you take in more life? How can you be more true to yourself?

So dear ones, I leave you with these questions. If you would like to share you responses with me, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below the blog post.

And to Mary Oliver, thank you for your wisdom, inspiration and teachings that live on in the legacy of poems you leave behind.

With love and courage,

Kym xx