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personality and story wholehearted stories

Finding my home – a wholehearted story

October 30, 2017

Finding my home

This guest post from Natalie Gaul reminds us that experiences of compassion and empathy – and conscious self-acceptance – can help us find our home and a more wholehearted life.

This is the third guest post in our Wholehearted Stories series on Quiet Writing. I invited readers to consider submitting a guest post on their wholehearted story. You can read more here – and I’m still keen for more contributors if you are interested. 

Quiet Writing celebrates self-leadership in wholehearted living and writing, career and creativity. This community of voices, with each of us telling our own story of what wholehearted living means, is a valuable and central part of this space. In this way, we can all feel connected on our various journeys and not feel so alone. Whilst there will always be unique differences, there are commonalities that we can all learn from and share to support each other.

I am honoured to have my special friend, Natalie Gaul, as a ‘Wholehearted Stories’ contributor. Natalie and I met as fellow trainees, now graduates, of the Beautiful You Coaching Academy life coaching program. We made an instant and intuitive heartfelt connection, recognising in each other a deep focus on the practice of being whole, working to embrace all aspects of our personality.

My sincere thanks to Natalie for the contribution of her deeply felt personal story, including the stunning images she has created especially for this piece. Natalie’s story is a journey through the shadow and light of personality. It highlights the sheer relief of finding solutions and experiences that enable self-compassion and taking personal responsibility – read on to find out more!

The weight of my world

For as long as I can remember, I felt an unease deep inside of me. Like I was living in a body that didn’t quite fit my bones and there was a pulling… to where and what, I had no idea, but it was always there.

I was the little girl who was desperate for approval, constantly wondering and whispering, “please don’t be angry with me”, “I’m sorry if I’ve done something wrong”, “I hope you still love me”. I was the classic over-achiever, the “good girl”, you know the type. The one who never questions anything, the one who does as she’s told, the one who could be pulled into line by a glance or the slightest change in the tone of your voice. I was the little girl who entered this world completely and utterly terrified of it, and most of all, of everyone in it.

I was the teenager who never quite fitted in. Who, upon just witnessing an unkind word being said to another felt it on a level so deep that it kept me awake at night, wishing I could take it and make it happen to me instead. I was the teenager who couldn’t rest or sleep. I was the teenager who still felt that pulling and I wanted it to go away.

I was the young woman in her 20’s, clinically diagnosed with a major depressive illness… or maybe it was bipolar? One thing was for sure, I was far too emotional. I didn’t quite fit into any box, under any label and even in my sadness, I didn’t fit in. And still, that pulling was there, getting stronger and stronger and I pushed back at it harder and harder… I wanted it gone.

I was the woman who met her 30’s with the divine gift of a loving husband and two beautiful children. Children I had fought for with my life, as my own body let me down. A life on paper that was picturesque, but in my internal reality, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Falling into the darkness

It was at this time, everything I had ever thought about myself manifested into words from the outside world … you are so ungrateful, you should help yourself, you are so selfish, there are so many people in worse situations, what do you have to be unhappy about? And so… I stopped fighting. I stopped pushing against the life-long pull and went with it. The pull I had felt for so long was into my own darkness. A place built on generations of extreme pain, hate and hurt. Finally, I was at the place I thought I belonged. Finally, I reached the place I thought was my home.

Words can’t really describe the depths of pain I experienced. I was used to pain, it was my normal but this was at a whole new level. To many, I was still a high functioning woman, a loving wife, and beautiful mother but inside, there was a war at play and it was dark and dangerous.

It was the culmination of 32 years of pretence and now finally I gave myself permission to treat myself how I always felt I deserved. The physical and mental self-abuse was violent and cruel but somehow it was satisfying. I was home, I was right where I thought I should be. I sat in the darkness, welcoming it, letting it consume me, all the while the emotional turmoil increasing in its intensity until finally, I was at my end. I couldn’t live like this anymore, I had to make a choice. I asked and pleaded for help, from whoever created me simultaneously cursing them for making me so broken and abandoning me. What followed, some may label as coincidence. However, on reflection, I know it was the outstretched arms of the universe, waiting for me to ask for a light out of this darkness, all along.

Finding my home

A glimmer of hope

I stumbled across Cathartic Breathwork, having no idea what it was but trusting that deep calling inside of me to find out more. I enquired about an up-coming live-in retreat and to my surprise, I wasn’t made wrong for how I was feeling but rather met with compassion, empathy, and kindness. That was a completely new experience! I left my family six days later, consciously deciding, if I could not find any peace or relief by the end of the program, I would find it with my maker and I wasn’t coming home.

You hear people say experiences change their life. That week not only changed mine but saved it. For what may have been the first time in my life, I actually had hope that I could survive in this body, I could survive on this planet. I subsequently committed to 3 years of intense breathwork facilitation and training. My learning curve was vast and steep and my eyes were opened to a whole new world. I was guided and held in process after process, allowing me to unequivocally and unapologetically be me. As my self-relationship deepened, I started to understand how to relate and work with my physical, emotional and energetic body.

An insatiable hunger for this knowledge grew, intrinsically knowing it was the key to unlocking and unpacking my truth. To say it was challenging is an understatement. It was one of the most difficult times of my life but yet, somehow nothing on the pain of before. Taking personal responsibility for my life empowered me beyond belief as now, rather than being a victim of circumstance, I had choice. I was in the driving seat of my own life.

I was experiencing pure emotions for the first time. My own emotions, my own truth. I finally came to the understanding that doing this conscious work wasn’t about becoming somebody else, but rather being able to stand and hold myself with love, exactly as I am. To find true acceptance of me as a whole.

Finding my home

Stepping into my purpose

The natural progression was starting my own breathwork business. This was a monumental leap of trust and faith, however, I struggled with the concept of it for many years. Who was I to think I could hold space for others? After all, I was still on my own healing journey and I didn’t have all of my own answers. I pushed against this for years. The self-doubt, the lack of self-worth, the slipping into relating to myself with unkindness. Yet each time I pulled away, I somehow ended up coming back. This service and space I was holding was bigger than my thoughts, it was bigger than me. It was my purpose.

My study and exploration of the human mind, body, and spirit continued and my relationship with myself deepened. I learned that I am an Empath (oh my goodness! – how this freed and allowed me an understanding of why I feel everything so much). I learned of energy and intuition and what that “ping” in my body is when something doesn’t feel quite right. I learned to work with it and trust it. I studied massage therapy to acquire a greater understanding the physical body. I worked and continue to work with a Core Energetic, Mind and Body Psychotherapist, developing and expanding my relationship with my inner child. I became drawn to investigating my shadow side. Experiencing, that upon allowing myself to bring light to this shadow, there was gold to be found. It was another key to true self-love and acceptance. I studied life coaching and grounded my knowledge of the power of intention and action.

Every snippet I would uncover and integrate had a flow-on effect, not only in my own life, but that of family, friends, and clients. I was creating an ever-deepening space of empathy, compassion, and understanding. I discovered what resonated with me and what didn’t, I realised that I was actually trusting myself and feeling a level of safety like never before. I was becoming aware and confident of my boundaries and I wasn’t trying to please everybody else at my own expense… I was actually becoming clear and stepping into my truth.

Finding my homeI am home

So here I am now, in my 42nd year on this planet – a concept that ten years ago seemed utterly impossible. I am a woman who reflects on the years I have lived with a sense of gratitude, knowing in my heart that everything I experienced has been for a higher purpose, even if in my head I don’t understand it. I am a woman who, when asked how I work with people and their feelings all of the time, can honestly answer that it is the place I feel most energised and comfortable because masks are left as the door, defences are down and one’s truth is uncovered. It is real and true.  I am a woman who is committed to working with my inner child, growing and deepening and healing my relationship with her. I am a woman who, in my personal and business life has unwavering fundamental pillars of personal truth and integrity.

I am a woman who craves, honest and true human connection but acknowledges that it is still one of the things I fear. I am a woman who is saying “yes!” to my god and universe and flowing with the plan for me with the least amount of resistance. I am a woman who is learning to accept my humanness and meet these parts of me with love and compassion. I am a woman who views my vulnerability as my greatest gift to this world as it provides a permission and space for others to do the same. I am a woman who now knows that I am the perfect person to hold space for others seeking self-connection as I have what cannot be learned in any book – empathy and a lifetime of experience. I am a woman who is quirky, disorganised, insanely witty, emotionally messy and imperfectly perfect in all of it.

I am a 41-year-old woman who finally feels like I am meant to be in this world and this actually is my home.

About Natalie Gaul

Natalie Gaul

 

Natalie is a Conscious Life + Shadow Coach, Breathworker, Creative Artist, Group Facilitator, Writer and Published Author and Artist. She is living a quiet, conscious, and connected life with her family on the New South Wales Central Coast, in Australia, beautifully balancing her client work with her creative artwork. You can find Natalie online at www.nataliegaul.com or on Facebook and Instagram as @natalie.gaul

 Thought pieces

Ask for help, talk to others

Pieces like this are not easy to write and I thank Natalie for her courage and honesty. They need to be written as there is too much silence. And they highlight the importance of connecting with others. I am aware it may not have been easy to read for some people. If anything in this post triggers anything for you, I encourage you to reach out to others for support. Talk to a trusted family member or friend. Or contact organisations set up especially to provide support. In Australia, key organisations for support are Beyond Blue and Lifeline. International support organisations can all be found here.

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and whole-hearted self-leadership. This includes personality skills, Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type developments, coaching, creativity, writing and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. You will also receive my free 95-page ebook 36 Books that Shaped my Story – so sign up now to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook and Instagram – keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community.

If you were moved by this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

My wild soul is calling – a wholehearted story

Our heart always knows the way – a wholehearted story

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

personality and story work life

Personality skills including how to be the best you can be as an introvert in recruitment

October 27, 2017

This article is a roundup of recent Quiet Writing guest posts with a personality skills focus. This includes: how to be the best you can be as an introvert in recruitment; leadership and self-leadership; and introverted and extraverted intuition.

They all reflect the focus in Quiet Writing on wholehearted self-leadership and knowing our personality and how to work it.

personality skills

Learning about recruitment as an introvert

My guest post, This is How to Make the Most of the Right Recruitment Opportunities as an Introvert, is featured on WorkSearch.com. It explores the challenges and opportunities in presenting yourself strongly as an introvert in recruitment processes.

This article on personality skills in introversion and recruitment stems from my leadership experiences, observing and supporting others going through recruitment. It is shaped by my developing practice over time as an applicant and an introvert. And it’s informed by my professional understanding as a personality type practitioner.

There have been three key influences in shaping my practice and experience as an introvert in the recruitment space:

  1. Working with a coach and mentor over time – I worked on my skills over time in coaching and workshop contexts with executive coach, Nick Greenhalgh, from Career Innovations. In partnership, we developed skills in leadership and recruitment in staff members. This was so they could present themselves in their best light when applying for positions.
  2. Understanding quiet influence skills via Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference – This book, by author, speaker and executive coach, Jennifer Kahnweiler features in my 36 Books that Shaped my Story. Through it, I learnt to value and deploy the natural introvert skill-set for influence and impact. Importantly, I learnt how to apply it for maximum effect in recruitment situations and leadership roles.
  3. Developing my practice as a professional in Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type – It’s one thing to know you are an introvert and what that means. But I wanted to dive deeper and use my knowledge to help others. I knew the difference this self-knowledge made in my life, so I was keen to share this light with others. So I’ve trained in personality skills and type assessment, adding this to my professional leadership and self-leadership skill-set.

Sharing skills learned as an introvert in recruitment

Based on this input and background, in this article, I share my feelings and experiences about being an introvert in recruitment contexts. I have invested significant energy in my skills over time both as an applicant and leader. I share my learnings and key resources from this experience in personality skills to guide you.

Whilst this piece focuses on introverts in recruitment, the skills are valuable for all going through recruitment. You might be more extraverted in preference and so able to think quickly on your feet. But skills like thorough preparation, achievement mapping, knowing your case studies and writing well will only complement your natural strengths, making your claim for positions stronger.

I hope you enjoy this article honed from my personality skills knowledge, leadership and self-leadership skills. I’d love any feedback and thoughts on your experiences and on the article itself.

This Is How To Make The Most Of The Right Recruitment Opportunities As An Introvert

Leadership, self-leadership and solitude

You might also enjoy my other recent guest post on WorkSearch.com, How to Become the Heart of Successful Leadership: This is What You Need to Know. It was based on the book, Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Raymond M Kethledge and Michael S Erwin. My personal experience as a leader, introvert, life-long learner and committed autodidact influenced my thoughts and reflections. Leadership especially as a quieter person and the value of solitude for all leaders are highlighted in this piece.

How To Become The Heart Of Successful Leadership: This Is What You Need To Know

Personality, wholeness and intuition

I naturally focus on introvert areas as an introvert and because I know the difference this knowledge made to me. Learning to work my introversion was a light-bulb moment for me and many of my coaching clients and Quiet Writing readers relate to this. But in my personality work, I’m interested in promoting balance, wholeness and acceptance of others, whatever our type. It’s great to understand our own personality type. It’s also valuable to learn from other preferences.

So, it was fascinating to deep dive into intuition from both an introverted and extraverted perspective in guest posts over on Life Reaction recently. If you haven’t already read them, you can find them here:

Introverted Intuition: Learning from its Mysteries

Extraverted Intuition: Imagining the Possibilities.

To make intuition a strong practice, it’s worthwhile to review the different modes of cognitive processing and comparing these different ways in which intuition plays out in the world.

personality skills

Personality skills and wholehearted self-leadership

I hope you enjoyed this round-up of Quiet Writing guest posts on introverts, recruitment, leadership, personality and intuition.

These guest post pieces reflect the heart of Quiet Writing. Two key themes underlie Quiet Writing: one is being wholehearted and how we create our stories; the other is self-leadership and how we work towards being wholehearted through taking personal action.

The key to taking action and knowing which actions to take are:

  • knowing ourselves and what we value and desire
  • learning to listen to our inner knowing
  • understanding our innate personality, including its strengths and what is challenging for us
  • seeking out, incorporating and acting on influence and inspiration from others.

My thoughts on wholehearted self-leadership stem from being a leader in the workplace and learning from this experience. The leadership of creativity and my impact on others’ ability to be innovative has been a key theme in my life’s work. I’m interested in how this lens can now be applied more broadly so self-leadership is a way of promoting self-driven approaches to more holistic career and creativity.

The key aspects I have chosen to focus on in Quiet Writing are:

  • Life Coaching – for wholehearted self-leadership
  • Writing – to discover our wholehearted stories and how we strive for creative lives and careers
  • Personality assessment and exploration – to be able to explore our personality skills and stories through Jung/Myers-Briggs frameworks and other perspectives to help us in our quest for understanding, accepting and knowing ourselves.

I look forward to exploring these themes further at Quiet Writing and in writing, personality and coaching work.

And my sincere thanks to WorkSearch and Life Reaction for featuring my work on their platforms as part of a growing body of knowledge on personality skills, leadership and self-leadership.

personality skills

Keep in touch

Keep in touch – subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes personality skills, Jung/Myers-Briggs personality type developments, coaching, creativity, writing and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. You will also receive my free ebook 36 Books that Shaped my Story – so sign up now to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook and Instagram – keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Shining a quiet light – working the gifts of introversion

How to know and honour your special creative influences

Being a vessel or working with introverted intuition

Overwhelm, intuition and thinking

Intuition, writing and work: eight ways intuition can guide your creativity

All images except personality books via pexels.com and used with permission and thanks.

intuition personality and story

Introverted and extraverted intuition – how to make intuition a strong practice

October 13, 2017

Intuition is a powerful tool and a strong practice from both an introverted and extraverted perspective. Read more to understand how to work your intuition.

intuition practice

In my personality work, I’m interested in promoting balance, wholeness and acceptance of others. It’s great to understand our own type. It’s also valuable to learn from other preferences to be more well-rounded and respect other ways of operating.

In terms of cognitive processing, there is both Introverted and extraverted intuition. Both modes can help make intuition a strong practice. But understanding and deploying the strengths of both can provide access to new ways of working and interacting.

Intuitive is one of the five Core Desired Feelings that underpin Quiet Writing and its focus. The five feelings are:

connected, creative, flowing, intuitive, poetic

Intuition is a way of absorbing information and accessing wisdom I value immensely. I’ve worked on it over the years and especially this past year through tarot and oracle work on a daily basis.  So it’s fascinating to deep dive into Intuition from both an Introverted and Extraverted point of view and learn more about the strengths of both.

Personality as story

Personality is a story, a life story, that can help us to weave and find our way in the world. It provides a framework that helps us understand our dominant preferences or gifts, why we love what we love and how we can work these gifts to shine brighter.

As well, it can provide an insight into the less developed aspects of our personality that we might illuminate to feel more whole. It can also help us to understand individual differences in orientations and why other people such as our partners and work colleagues may operate so differently to us in some ways. 

As an INTJ Jung/Myers-Briggs type, Introverted Intuition is my dominant cognitive processing preference. So the more introverted ways of interacting with intuition and the world are very familiar to me. But I wanted to understand this way of operating more. It’s certainly taken me time to really trust and learn from it. Becoming certified in personality type assessment based on Jung/Myers-Briggs theory has enabled me to dive more deeply into the way it works. I’ve also been interested to learn about other ways of working with intuition such as those who rely on Extraverted Intuition as a preference.

Jung/Myers-Briggs personality frameworks

Where does Intuition fit into the landscape of personality? Here’s a snapshot view of Jung/Myers-Briggs personality frameworks. Carl Jung’s theory of personality identifies eight functions – four Perceiving functions and four Judging functions. The functions are used differently depending on whether they are expressed in the internal world or the external world.

The summary below is based on Mary McGuiness’s excellent book ’You’ve Got Personality’ including her keywords for the functions.

The four Perceiving functions are:

Extraverted Sensing – abbreviated as Se – Sensory Experience

Introverted Sensing – Si – Sensory Memory

Extraverted Intuition – Ne – Exploring possibilities

Introverted Intuition – Ni – Visionary insight

The four Judging functions are:

Extraverted Thinking – Te – Logical outcomes

Introverted Thinking – Ti – Internal analysis

Extraverted Feeling – Fe – Harmonizing people

Introverted Feeling – Fi – Universal values

Further work by Isabel Myers and her mother Katharine Briggs based on Jung’s work added the fourth dimension – Judging and Perceiving. From this, the four pairs of preferences were developed that are the basis of the 16 x four-letter type references such as INTP, ESFJ. They are the preferences from the pairs of:

Extraversion vs Introversion (E/I)

Sensing vs Intuition (S/N)

Thinking vs Feeling (T/F)

Judging vs Perceiving (J/P)

Each type has a Dominant, Auxiliary, Tertiary and Inferior function, dynamic frameworks within which our personality plays out which are points of orientation.

In terms of the eight Jungian functions, people are able to develop all but some are more instinctive for each type. Understanding your type and preferred functions helps you make sense of the way you perceive and organise the world, internally and externally.

Introverted and Extraverted Intuition

The personality types that rely on intuition as a strong suit are:

Introverted Intuition: INTJ & INFJ (dominant), ENTJ & ENFJ (auxiliary)

Extraverted Intuition: ENTP & ENFP (dominant), INFP & INTP (auxiliary)

In a video interview, Jung defines Introverted Intuition as “a perception by ways or means of the unconscious.”

In his 1921 book, Psychological Types, Jung explains the main characteristics of the Extraverted Intuitive function as:

…always present where possibilities exist…his eye is constantly ranging for new possibilities…

The Introverted Intuitive focus is visionary and insightful. Extraverted Intuitive cognitive processes focus on what could be, especially from an improvement perspective. The main difference is how interaction with the world occurs as a source of intuition. The Introverted Intuitive works via the inner world or unconscious in visionary and symbolic ways. The Extraverted Intuitive prefers interaction and a wide scope of external sources to maximise input.

It’s fascinating to deep dive into Intuition from both an Introverted and Extraverted point of view as quite different ways of interacting around intuition. There is much you can learn from your less natural preferences to make intuition a strong practice in your life.

You might rely on sensing and what’s right in front of you more, so intuition is a great way to take in information differently especially around seeing beyond what is. If you’re extraverted, you could try to learn from or observe more introverted intuition strategies. Where you are mainly introverted in orientation, practice more extraverted intuitive approaches to open up avenues of input from interaction and wider sources.

They may not be comfortable options initially. But taking ourselves outside our comfort zones can mean we are stretching and growing in new ways. Knowing more about the different cognitive processes means you can better understand how you and others operate.

Learn more about Introverted and Extraverted Intuition

To learn more about Introverted and Extraverted Intuition, here are two posts I have written on Intuition as a guest blogger for Life Reaction recently. One focuses on Introverted Intuition and the other on Extraverted Intuition:

Introverted Intuition: Learning from its Mysteries

Extraverted Intuition: Imagining the Possibilities.

To make intuition a strong practice, it’s worthwhile to review the different modes of cognitive processing. I hope you enjoy reading and comparing these two different ways in which intuition plays out in the world.

Exploring your personality type with a coach or person with certification in the area can help you work through the rich detail. This helps you know how to apply this valuable knowledge in a practical and enduring way.

Personality, story and life coaching

I’m loving exploring personality and story in the context of life coaching. Working with pro bono clients now, it’s amazing how personality type weaves its way into the conversation. With my training and professional background, it’s something bring to life coaching quietly or overtly. I love the framework for personal growth it provides.

Understanding our personality is a key to gaining insight into our story and working with our gifts. It’s a way of knowing what we can develop to be more wholehearted, calling on our less developed preferences.

As Isabel Briggs Myers has said:

It is up to each person to recognize his or her true preferences.

Personality is a story you write with the natural preferences you have.

I’m developing my personality offerings including identifying your type via the Majors Personality InventoryTM, and linking them with my Life Coaching offerings, so sign up to Quiet Writing via email to keep informed.

Plus you will immediately receive my free 94 page ‘36 Books’ ebook on the books that shaped my story and reading as creative influence. Or you can send an email to terri@quietwriting.com to be put on the priority list for 2018 life and personality coaching opportunities.

But for starters, head on over to Life Reaction and read my most recent post on Extraverted Intuition or my previous post on Introverted Intuition. The posts taken together can help you make intuition a strong practice from an introverted and extraverted perspective. I hope these posts can help pull the threads together so you can more strongly write your personality story.

Happy reading and welcome any questions and thoughts on personality, story and Intuition.

persona

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free ebook on the books that have shaped my story is available for subscribers only – so sign up now to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on tarot, intuition, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality including Jung/Myers-Briggs Type.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Being a vessel or working with introverted intuition

Overwhelm, intuition and thinking

Intuition, writing and work: eight ways intuition can guide your creativity

Music, intuition and messages of songs

Feature image via pexels.com and used with permission and thanks.

coaching personality and story planning & productivity

Creative and connected #12 The courage to show up

September 15, 2017

Courage starts by showing up and letting ourselves be seen.

Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

show up

It’s Quiet Writing’s first blogiversary so I’m sharing thoughts on what I’ve enjoyed this week and over time on the courage to show up and be seen.

One year ago, on 13 September 2016, I hit the publish button with a welcome post on Quiet Writing. I’d been writing for six years before on my previous blog but it was time to step up. I wanted to refocus on my core values of being:

creative, intuitive, flowing, poetic and connected.

And this past year has been about weaving these values into everything I do. As I reach a one-year milestone at Quiet Writing, I’m thinking about what it means to show up here and elsewhere.

Showing up at Quiet Writing and elsewhere this year

The whole world changed this past year. Showing up for me has meant learning a new way to live. My primary role has been supporting and caring for my mother who is very unwell. That’s been a new experience of showing up, day in and day out, in ways I’ve never known before. It’s been emotional and has required digging deep.

At the same time, I’m working through a major life transition from leader and government employee of 30 years, to being a writer and life coach. I knew I needed to make this shift and then as I started, everything changed. This has involved all kinds of showing up – learning new skills, valuing my body of work, writing consistently and believing in myself in a new way. It’s taken place in an environment where I support my beautiful mother as the first priority.

In all this, I’ve had to focus on self-care too, learning how to be resilient and strong in this shifting landscape. I’ve had to learn to make time for myself – to rest, to swim, to plan a different future. And working with intuition has been important too even if it feels a vague thing to be doing at times.

I had one plan and circumstances delivered – and continue to deliver – a whole different scenario. It’s been a year of learning on all fronts – about myself and about what showing up and doing the work means. Certainly having the courage to be vulnerable and be seen has been a critical aspect of my learning and writing here. It’s also time to reflect on the need to be flexible in how we show up.

So with all this, here are some thoughts and resources on having the courage to show up and be seen.

Podcasts on what it means to show up

Scott Stabile on the Rawness of Real Life – on The Secret Library Podcast with Caroline Donahue

I love it that when I’m thinking about something like ‘showing up’ and writing about it, it pops up in my life in various ways. This podcast celebrates the release of Scott Stabile’s new book, ‘Big Love: The Power of Living with a Wide-Open Heart‘.

It’s a fabulous conversation and around the 17-minute mark, there’s an exchange on showing up and fear that really spoke to me. Scott says:

…what I found was that every day showing up at the computer was an exercise in just moving forward with your fear.

He talks about how fear is always showing up as well and how we need to learn to work with it. He suggests the best way to put fear in its rightful place is through action:

Action assuages fear.

There was also a valuable takeaway on how showing up means different things for each of us. We all have our own unique ways of working. Doing the work and sitting down to write or create is central to it, but we all do this in different ways. We need to honour our own process and the ways of showing up that work for us. It might be working every day at a certain time or in a stretch of intense time. Perhaps we write in a cafe, at home, at night or while we’re commuting and it might be dictating to a machine, hand-writing, typing or speaking to someone else. But it’s all valid and our own rhythms and processes, so let’s celebrate and not be so damn hard on ourselves.

Thanks to Caroline and Scott for a fabulous chat and I look forward to reading Big Love!

Show up as if you’re already where you want to be – Jen Carrington, Make It Happen podcast

This short (8:41) podcast is a pep-talk from creative coach, Jen Carrington, on her mantra of “showing up as if you’re already where you want to be in your creative work and life”. It looks at how to honour this in your work by shifting mindset, changing practices and modifying the stories you tell yourself and others. Self-care is an important factor too in “fuelling your hustle”. It’s a powerful burst of inspiration to help you show up in your life and work.

Who gets to decide if you’re a legitimate artist – Mark Nepo with Elizabeth Gilbert, Magic Lessons

Ths podcast shifted my thinking enormously about external validation and who or what I am waiting for to feel valid. It’s a soulful conversation on how we can limit ourselves with this waiting. It illustrates that embracing and expressing our creativity is the best way to move forward. Again, fear of rejection emerges as a key factor to challenge!

show up

Books and reading notes: My reading week

In line with showing up with reading more productively and my accountability here, I’m reading a few books concurrently. I haven’t finished any lately though am making progress on all. I’m reading:

Getting my own ebook ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ out into the world has been a big and satisfying priority!

I also received a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday recently so I’m looking forward to reading more via this device. It’s so lovely to read on, managing the eyestrain and screen impacts. It also means having access to books at reasonable prices including those of indie authors! Plus it’s better for the environment, easier to carry and helps with managing space in my library.

Book and blog notes on the courage to show up

In How do you show up? Teresa Cooley, Executive Director of the Center for Courage and Renewal talks about showing up in the light of recent and current natural disasters. She says:

The only thing we can control in the face of nature is how we show up. This kind of courage usually doesn’t take thinking about. It’s simply what we do. And every small and large spontaneously brave action tells us something precious about what humanity is capable of. It is that knowledge that helps us get up to face another day, no matter what it brings.

In The Vitamin Cocktail of Courage, Jane Bolton looks at varieties and elements of courage. She provides practical tips for how we can “supplement our personal reservoirs of courage” through action.

It seems action is a consistent theme! My favourite books on showing up, doing the work and courage are:

Steven Pressfield: The War of Art, Turning Pro and Do the Work

Brené Brown: Daring Greatly, Rising Strong

Elizabeth Gilbert: Big Magic

Stephen King: On Writing

Some of these feature in my special ‘36 Books‘ list so you can read more there.

And I think Scott Stabile’s ‘Big Love’ might join this list soon!

What are your favourite books and blog posts on the courage to show up and do the work?

courage

Social media interactions

On Instagram, there’s been plenty of people showing up around Kim Manganelli aka @journeyofawriter and her #showup100 hashtag project. The idea is to show up for 100 days before the end of the year and share pics of how you are doing this. If you are looking for an online community focused on showing up creatively – this is the place for you!

On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives

On Quiet Writing, I’ve been thrilled to launch my free ebook: 36 Books that Shaped my Story into the world. It’s been so lovely to hear from readers engaging with my story! It’s a journey of creative influence and how books are ways that shape and flag what’s calling us.

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram continue to be a way to practice intuition at this time of change. There have been plenty of messages about going with the flow and trusting our journey. Gabrielle Bernstein in ‘Spirit Junkie’ reminds us of the role of intuition and connection with spirit in our work and life:

Since my primary focus was to stay connected to spirit, everything else flowed. Each outward action I took was backed by strong intuition and inspiration. All I needed to do was commit to the belief that with spirit as my guide, everything was possible.

Share your thoughts:

Would love to hear your favourite books, posts and thoughts on the courage to show up! And all about how you are showing up in your life!

Have a fabulous creative weekend.

show up

Creative and Connected is a regular post (most Fridays) and links to recent previous posts are below. Or you can find them all here. There are so many rich resources to inspire you and I hope you enjoy them. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

Feature image and desktop pic via pexels.com

Keep in touch

Sign up + get your free ebook 36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence

Just pop your email in the box to the right or below and ’36 Books’ will be with you soon! It’s a 94-page reflection on the creative influence of what we read. It takes you on a journey through my own influences. Find out which 36 books influenced me and why!

You will also receive updates and opportunities from Quiet Writing and its passions. This includes coaching, writing, creativity, and other connections to help you show up and express your unique voice in the world.

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on tarot, intuition, influence, passion, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality type assessment.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Creative and Connected #11 – on the special value of self-leadership

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

creativity inspiration & influence personality and story

How to know and honour your special creative influences

September 4, 2017

How we choose to pay attention, and relate to information and each other shapes who we become, shapes our creative destiny and, in turn, shapes our experience of the world.

Maria Popova, Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity

creative influenceHere are some thoughts and tips on honouring our special creative influences, connecting them with our passions and taking them forward into new unique endeavours.

Knowing and honouring our creative influences is how we connect with our legacy and passions and take them forward. A key theme in my ebook ‘36 Books that Shaped my Story‘ is an exploration of how creative influences shape us, our world and our own creations.

’36 Books’ goes through a personal journey of reviewing the books that have impacted me over the chronology of my life. I selected key books of influence and ordered them into a sequence. Then I revisited each book and honoured its wisdom and learning, reflecting on the narrative as it unfolded in my life.

The creative influence of what we love

I’ve always been acutely aware of creative influence and how each book I read makes some kind of impact on me. Perhaps it’s my INTJ personality and that mix of Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking; or maybe it’s my language and literature background. But from a young age, I’ve always read deeply, kept notes and chronicled influences – whether it be music, the written word, images or art. Many of us seek ways to capture what influences us, what speaks to us, what leaves a lasting impression in ways that make sense for us.

Think of the musicians or writers, books or songs, that we love. Why of all the musicians and writers do some speak to us so directly and passionately? Why does Daphne Du Maurier – her books, where she lived, everything about her – capture my heart so much? When I hear The Cure’s ‘A Forest’, why do I get all shivery each time I even though I’ve listened to it many times? Why do I cry every time I hear ‘What a Wonderful World’? And why does the song, ‘Witchita Lineman’ do things to the top of my head that I can’t even explain?

And visually, why do artist Edward Hopper’s austere landscapes and solitary figures connect with me so intensely? Why do I feel like I exactly understand ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch? And why does the light in Ansel Adam’s photographs bring me tears?

I guess you could say I’m just sensitive. But all of us have had that feeling of reading, listening, seeing and engaging with all of our senses, witnessing something deep, visceral and connected with an artist, writer or place. Those influences stay with us and they gather, coalesce and merge into something unique within us, connecting with other aspects of our personality and passions.

Combinatorial creativity

In her fabulous Creative Mornings talk, Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity, Maria Popova explores the notion of creativity as a combination of influences. This is something I’ve long felt and honoured. So it was beautiful to read Popova’s piece articulating this and curating her own influences and thoughts on this concept.

Popova introduces us to the idea of florilegium, from the 14th century. These were:

compilations of excerpts from other writings, essentially mashing up selected passages and connecting dots from existing texts to illuminate a specific topic or doctrine or idea. The word comes from the Latin for “flower” and “gather.”

Popova provides examples of where knowledge or skill in one sphere influenced and sharpened another. For example, novelist Vladimir Nabokov was a butterfly collector which he believed helped with creating detail and precision in his writing.

butterfly

There are a few concepts tied up in this idea of combinatorial creativity. One is that different areas of knowledge and influence can come together to impact on each other in new ways. Another is that nothing is completely new from the ground up, but more a consequence of influences coming together and how we integrate or collate them in our unique way. And a third is that all that connected knowledge and skill creates a body of mastery we can call on to connect the dots further into new creations.

Books, narrative and story connections

I explore this concept in my ‘36 Books‘ analysis of the books that have impacted me and my narrative:

And story is the shape the words make – the narrative we weave through the body of work that we create through career, our creative endeavours and our passions. This story is unique – no one has read the same books as you in the same way; no one has the same life experiences as you; and you are the only one to combine your passions and experiences in the way that you do.

I focus on books in my exploration but that becomes a filter of so much more. The books we choose to read at any time, their influence on us, the ones that make a huge personal impact and the interaction of this with our context and story, all play critical roles. It’s fascinating to step back and reflect on the books that really moved you and why; the ones you keep close by and why they are always there.

Sage Cohen, whose essay ‘Honor Your Lineage’ in ‘Fierce on the Page‘ ignited my ’36 Books’ journey, talks about books as teachers. Just as special teachers and mentors in our lives impact on us and leave a legacy we take forward, so books are special teachers whose messages we need to honour.

How do you honour your influences?

So how do you honour your influences? I am a big believer in acknowledging my influences and the impact of others on me. I think it’s important to take the time to acknowledge who has influenced and helped you.

’36 Books’ is a deep analysis of this around the books that have shaped my story.  This is something I did also on the post My Seven Stars many years ago which thanked the role models who started me on this journey. It was a feature also of my welcome post when I relaunched my blog as Quiet Writing nearly a year ago. My regular Creative and Connected series here acknowledges the influence of what I’ve listened to and read as well as engaged in via social media. It’s a deep value of mine to acknowledge your influences and their inspiration.

I also believe strongly in acknowledging other’s work you are referring to, drawing from or weaving into your own. Perhaps it’s my academic background with all those essays and bibliographies and references annotated. Though in the workplace too, I would always acknowledge the contribution and influence of others. I’d talk about the outcomes of projects as the collation of the team’s influence as much as any leadership on my part. Such is my antenna about valuing influence.

Tips for knowing, honouring and acknowledging your influences

So here are a few practical tips for knowing, honouring and acknowledging your influences:

1 Take the time to identify your influences: 

  • Pull the books off the shelves that are special influences, collect them and find ways to honour them by writing about them, connecting their messages and spending time listening to what they have brought to you.
  • Collect influences from different genres in your life (music, books, movies) and see how they connect to identify the common themes in your life.
  • Identify the people (eg famous figures, online connections, teachers, family, friends) who have had the most influence on you. Think about the impact and why it was important.

2 Thank your influencers:

  • Publicly or privately (or both), take the time to acknowledge and thank the people who have influenced you for their contribution to your journey.
  • We don’t always know when we are having an influence. Taking the time to tell others of their impact can be something that buoys their creativity for their next effort. It gives strength to their work and channels more energy for their contribution.
  • Sometimes we might not be able to thank people directly. But show gratitude for their work in some way such as acknowledging sources in a written piece. This allows others to learn from them and integrate it into their own creative journey.

3 Acknowledge influence and the source of ideas in your own work

  • If you quote someone else’s words or reference someone else’s thoughts, make sure it’s properly and correctly attributed.
  • Don’t claim others work as your own. Honour the creator by quoting and attributing their words correctly.
  • Don’t be afraid to mention who has influenced you because it’s all part of that rich combination of ideas and dots that brings new connections to life.

4 Wear your influences with pride and originality

  • Boy George was a judge on the ‘The Voice’ television program in Australia recently. He said to one of the contestants after their performance: “You need to wear your influences – they make you who you are.” As you connect the dots of your influences in new ways, wear them in ways only you can to create your unique work in the world.
  • Just as we can dress creatively, putting together different styles like modern and vintage, wear your unique influences confidently and proudly. Make your own Style Statement.
  • Look for connections, common themes and even the tension of opposites as sources of creativity. In this way, you can create your personal signature in how you work and present yourself.

5. Work through jealousy and envy 

  • A huge killer of combinatorial creativity is feeling jealous about the work of others that draws from similar influences. You have a great idea and then you see someone doing a very similar thing. You can feel gutted and overcome with envy.
  • Work through this so your unique perspective is not lost. You might have very similar sets of passions and influences to someone else. But the way they are blended with your unique personality and experiences will always be individual. So find your own way and have confidence in your unique remix and personal style.
  • You could connect with the person and celebrate their strengths. You could share their work, see how you can work together and find new ways to co-create from these shared influences. Acknowledge the envy and work from a sense of abundance, not limited thinking.

thank you

Have the courage to do your own work

At the end of the day, we also need to have the courage to do our own work. The best way we can take all those antecedents and influences forward is to honour them in new creations. Finding ways to identify our special perspective, our niche, our unique way of working is a creative act all of its own.

As Steven Pressfield reminds us in The War of Art:

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

Sign up + get your copy of ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’

Just pop your email in the box to the right or below and ’36 Books’ will be with you soon! It’s a 94-page reflection on the creative influence of what we read. It takes you on a journey through my own influences. Find out which 36 books influenced me and why!

What are your creative influences?

Ok, so what or who has that visceral effect on you – book, song, movie, author, singer, artist? What has had a huge impact on you and how has it influenced you? Would love to hear!

You can share in the Comments or visit Quiet Writing on Instagram or Facebook.

Keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, books, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality type.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

36 Books that Shaped my Story – Reading as Creative Influence

The unique voice of what we love

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

Butterfly image from Shutterstock.com

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inspiration & influence personality and story reading notes

36 Books that Shaped my Story – Reading as Creative Influence

September 1, 2017

My free ebook ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ celebrates the books we love as our creative legacy and the clues they give as to what is emerging in our story.

The story of ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

I’m so excited to be launching my ’36 Books’ ebook and sharing the story with you!

When I started working out what to include as a special gift and free ebook here, I wanted something that summed up the heart of Quiet Writing. I wanted to create something that sparked creativity, that shared generously and that provided a springboard for others for their own reflections on their lives and creativity.

And I kept coming back to books – sharing books that made a difference to me, sharing how they influenced me and shaped my life, reflecting on how this can be a source of growth.

Words are at the heart of Quiet Writing – the words we read, the words we write, the words we say to ourselves or another person such as a trusted friend or coach as we form our vision and process our journey. The words we listen to as we read, as we engage with another fully and the words we want to write.

And story is the shape the words make – the narrative we weave through the body of work that we create through career, our creative endeavours and our passions. This story is unique – no one has read the same books as you in the same way; no one has the same life experiences as you; and you are the only one to combine your passions and experiences in the way that you do.

Gathering special books around us

I’ve always gathered special books around me as a sort of altar, a source of strength, a connection to influence, like a wise chorus of silent voices surrounding me. So when I read Sage Cohen’s piece, ‘Honor you lineage’ in her book, Fierce on the Page, it rang special bells of resonance. In her beautiful piece, Sage explains:

I have always been magnetically drawn to the books I need as teachers. Recently I cleared a shelf and, with great reverence, placed on it the books I most love – the ones that have shaped me in the way that water shapes stones, almost imperceptibly over time.

She invites us to gather the books we most love around us and to sit with them and appreciate how they have influenced our vision and sense of direction, especially in our writing life.

And importantly, she flags that in the light and strength of these books and words, the heart of what we want to write is lingering:

I wonder if that’s really all our writing asks of us: to know what we love, to listen, and to give ourselves over to what presents itself.

So that’s what I did – I gathered the special books that have shaped me over time and spent time with each of them, honouring what they have brought to me. And it became a fascinating and deep exercise. Choosing them, remembering what they have given me, unpacking and unravelling it a little more, organising it into a continuum and seeing how it fitted in the context of my life – was an insightful joy. And I learnt so much about myself and the recurring themes in my life.

It became a deep excavation and navigation of what I love and how it drives me.

And that is the heart of Quiet Writing – it’s about gathering the threads of our lives, finding the connecting pieces and weaving them together.

I communicate this heart and this spirit, through writing and life coaching, the twin hearts of Quiet Writing, so we can work with it in a supportive way to shine. For when we find those connecting pieces, those values, those desires, those long held passions and values, they can help us negotiate the next phase more successfully and work out what we really want to do and feel.

What to expect in ’36 Books that Shaped my Story’

So what can you expect in ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’? It starts with a personal essay about the rationale and process and draws the threads of the experiment and experience together into key themes.

The second part then tracks through each of the 36 books individually and shows how they appeared in the context of my life and the legacy and influence they have provided. There are also suggestions as to why you might want to read each book.

Taken overall, the book shows how the books you love can be:

  • a source of writing inspiration
  • a narrative for your life
  • a timeline for reflection
  • prompts for memoir
  • a way of gathering evidence about your body of work over time
  • a way of understanding what you really love
  • a way of noticing the key themes of your life, and
  • the key to the influences that are your guiding light.

I think will find it a valuable read about the value of books and reading as creative influence and as a way of finding clues to help you enrich your quiet writing life.

How to get your copy of ’36 Books’

So if you already a Quiet Writing subscriber, the link will already be with you in your inbox via the ‘Beach Notes’ monthly message I have sent out.

If you are not already a subscriber, make sure you sign up to connect and receive ’36 Books’. Just sign up to the right or bottom on this page and the ebook will be with you in no time.

You will also receive my regular ‘Beach Notes’ newsletter full of inspiration about books, writing, story, narrative, voice, personality and all things quiet writing to inspire you. You will also be the first to know about Quiet Writing life coaching, guest posting and e-course opportunities when they are available.

I hope you enjoy ’36 Books’. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on and share our thoughts on reading, books, creativity, influence, story, narrative and writing. These are all fabulous inspirations central to Quiet Writing and the community here.

I can’t wait to hear your feedback – happy reading and reflection!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

How to read for more creativity, pleasure and productivity

Being ‘Fierce on the Page’ – a book review

On the art and love of reading

How to craft a successful life on your own terms

Quiet Writing

introversion personality and story wholehearted stories

My wild soul is calling – a wholehearted story

August 28, 2017

wild soul

This guest post from Elizabeth Milligan reminds us that listening to our wild soul calling can provide important clues to a more wholehearted life.

This is the second guest post in our Wholehearted Stories series on Quiet Writing. I invited readers to consider submitting a guest post on their wholehearted story. You can read more here – and I’m still keen for more contributors if you are interested. 

Quiet Writing celebrates self-leadership in wholehearted living and writing, career and creativity. This community of voices, with each of us telling our own story of what wholehearted living means, is a valuable and central part of this space. In this way, we can all feel connected on our various journeys and not feel so alone. Whilst there will always be unique differences, there are commonalities that we can all learn from and share to support each other.

I am honoured to have my online friend, Elizabeth Milligan, as a ‘Wholehearted Stories’ contributor. Elizabeth and I met through Susannah Conway’s e-course, Blogging From the Heart, years ago now, and have followed and celebrated each other’s journeys ever since.

My sincere thanks to Elizabeth for the contribution of her beautiful personal story to Quiet Writing, including the stunning images from her journey. It’s a journey that has taken her to many new and rediscovered places – read on to find out more!

My wild soul is calling

It’s difficult to say where my story of living a more wholehearted life started.  There was no one dramatic, life-changing event.  It was more of an ongoing unease and restlessness that prodded me awake at night through my twenties and thirties.  A gentle tap-tapping, a whispering breeze, a far-off voice calling my name.  I tried to listen and follow my heart.  I travelled widely and far afield but I never found an answer.  I kept on moving.  I switched careers, jobs and countries more times than I can recall, but still something was missing.  Depression hit me.  Anger.  Despair.  Why couldn’t I just be?  Why the restlessness?  The continual searching?

I arrived at my forties and decided it was stability I needed.  I stopped moving, got a job, met a man.  For a time I was able to breathe.  The elation and euphoria of a new love blotted out all other concerns.  Or did it?  Soon the question of our combined futures was gently raised, and it turned out we were both looking for something other than the lives we were leading.  Ten months into our new life together we jumped ship, left the city and ran away to the countryside.  The plan was to use our savings, take a sabbatical of sorts from life and work in the city and do something more creative with our days, surrounded by nature.  We found a housesit in the middle of nowhere in rural France, gave notice on our jobs, put our stuff into storage, and set off.

Doing the groundwork

It sounds like this was all a smooth transition, but in reality there was a lot going on before any of it could happen.  I’m talking about mind-set and subtle changes that take place through conversation, discussion, self-questioning and research.  Where ideas and thoughts start to become viable possibilities.  I had been listening to Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions and was wanting to take a more proactive approach to my life based on my true values.  I had made my first vision board and stuck it on the wall opposite my bed so it was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing at night.  I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for but I was certain I was looking for something different.

wild soul

I felt like I had spent the best part of my life as an observer and onlooker.  When was I going have the starring role in my own life rather than a sad, out-of-camera cameo?  I could see very clearly where I was in life and to most people, this probably looked like a pretty good place.  A good job in a nice French city, a leisurely cycle to work, regular meetings in Paris, outdoor markets for shopping, and beautiful city parks or the hills of Beaujolais for weekend jaunts.  But in reality, my job was boring me to tears.  It was not who I was and it was not what I wanted.  I felt guilty for not wanting it but I just couldn’t do it anymore.

I realised things had to change and I had become aware of other options.  Instead of constantly trying to quash the panic and feeling of wanting to run, like I’d been doing for so long, it was time to listen to my gut and break free.

Taking a risk and breaking free

So we took a risk, threw everything up in the air and allowed the universe to catch us.  Ever since I read the books of Oriah Mountain Dreamer many moons ago I have wanted to trust in the power of the universe, to open up and surrender to something bigger and infinitely more powerful than we will ever be.  This was my chance.  I knew that we were going on a journey but I didn’t realise, and still don’t fully understand, the long-term implications of that decision we made one warm summer’s evening in our tiny French apartment.

Before arriving at our housesit, an isolated farmhouse sitting alone in over one hundred acres of rambling fields, I had no plan of what I would do every day.  I wanted to see how things would unfold.  I was not going to force myself to do anything.  I was craving unstructured days and freedom and this was the perfect opportunity.

Finding my inner child

Being completely free with no commitments, no expectations from anyone, and no structure in the day is rather strange at this age.  I can see how some people may be uncomfortable with this, but for me it was a wonderful and decadent regression.  I felt like a child left behind in a secret world after all the adults had gone home.

I found a pair of wellington boots that fit me and spent my days in wellingtons and shorts trudging around the fields spotting the local wildlife.  Deer, hares, coypu, egrets, foxes, wild boar, although these I never saw.  I only heard them some nights when the moon was full, calling across the fields with their terrifying blood-curdling screams.  I chopped wood for the fire and foraged for herbs and fruit, making nettle soup, elderberry jam and mountains of quince chutney.  I made friends with the barn owl that lived in the unused kitchen chimney, and the bats that flew around at night, often through the open windows.  I watched the sunrise in the morning and the sunset at night and every full moon I would run into the field behind the barn to catch the first glimpse on the horizon.

wild soul

Feeling like I was finally in my true environment, I became re-acquainted with the little girl inside and realised with relief that she hadn’t left me after all.  She had just been hiding and waiting for the right conditions to show herself again.  As a child I loved cycling and I had forgotten what fun it was to cycle around quiet country lanes.  Using bikes we found in the barn we started cycling to the shops for our groceries instead of driving.  When the weather was warm we would stop off and swim in the river on the journey home.  I felt alive.  I felt in touch with this beautiful planet we live on.  I had rediscovered a missing piece of the puzzle.

Rewriting my story

The next piece of the puzzle I found was regarding personality type.  I was in an online group of women and one week a discussion about personality type came up.  This was new for me so I did an online test and identified as personality type INFP on the Myers-Briggs scale.

This means nothing if you don’t know about this scale.  But what the test results revealed was that I was an introvert.  I had never considered whether I was extrovert or introvert before but the realisation felt like the penny dropping.  I suddenly saw my past with startling clarity.  I had felt like an outsider my whole life.  An observer.  Someone who kept their distance.  I thought I was maybe anti-social.  I had been called shy and quiet at best, and aloof and stand-offish at worst.  Here was something saying I was perfectly normal and not only that, other people felt the same way too.

I realised that if the stories I had been telling myself were no longer true then everything could change.  If I nurtured my introvert qualities and stopped trying to be extrovert like the world seems to want, then I could rewrite not only my past, but my future.  Astounding.

wild soul

Freeing my creative soul

So I started to nurture my newly discovered introvert self.  I very tentatively started to allow myself to enjoy being who I was, rather than reprimanding myself for not being someone I wasn’t.  I tried to stop worrying about all the things I was not and focus on all the things I was.  Of course, this is easier said than done.  But what seemed to help me was the daily pursuit of a more creative way of life.

To document life in the farmhouse I had started a blog and this became my way of communicating my newly discovered introvert self to the outside world.  Using writing and photography I started expressing myself and sharing my journey online.  Later on in our housesitting adventures, I would learn to express myself through art, something I had sadly locked away for years but which thankfully resurfaced along with other creative pursuits as yet another important, and previously missing, piece of the puzzle.

Intuition as a guiding light

Trusting my intuition, although incredibly difficult at times, has become a guiding light on my journey.  If I had planned things out too much I would never have discovered my creative side as I have, because I would have been busy committing to those plans.  I still have a lot of problems trusting my intuition and tend always to look outward first even though I know that only I have the answers to the deep questions I ask myself.  But I’m slowly learning to take the lead in my own life.  Inhabiting my life with my creative, nature loving, introverted self rather than filling the role of onlooker in a life that appears alien to me.

Bit by bit the negative and fractious energy built around the person I thought I should be has dissolved and been replaced by a more positive, gentle, flowing energy that is built around who I truly am.  Some parts of me I am still shy to show to the world, but these things take time and if I continue to trust my intuition then I am sure everything will slot into place as and when it needs to.

The struggle of self-discovery

All of these new experiences and discoveries were not without struggle though.  My demons showed up time and time again in dark moods, self-doubt, fear, impatience and insomnia.  Try to imagine this wonderful farmhouse in rural France in the middle of winter when we have been living in a grey cloud for the past few weeks.  There is no dry wood for the fire and the wind is howling through the badly fitting doors and windows.  The boiler keeps blowing out so there is no hot water and we are sitting there in the kitchen with our demons wondering how long you can spend in such isolation before going completely insane.

wild soul

In dialogue with my demons

This part of my journey I was not prepared for.  But one by one as the demons showed up at the door, snarling at me in disgust, taunting me with their snide comments of ‘not good enough’, ‘failure’ and other such niceties, I invited them in and I sat with them.  Quietly hearing them out until they had no more to say and disappeared off, one by one, back into the mist.  I knew they would return but I felt like it would be ok.  For the first time in my life I had opened up a dialogue with my own mind and somewhere deep inside I knew this to be a turning point and something to learn from.  I am still learning, but I now know that once we let the light in and start to show up every day as our true selves, everything changes.

We never did go back to real life, whatever that is, like we sensibly thought we would after our one year sabbatical, now four years ago.  Our savings lasted longer than we thought and it was difficult to say no to other housesits.  A winter by the sea looking after a tiny hotel.  Another two winters looking after an 18th century château and the resident cat.  A summer in a city apartment in Copenhagen.

The way forward

I’m not sure what’s next and I’m not sure it really matters.  My life has changed from the inside out and although I know I’m not there yet, I’m certainly on my way to living a much more wholehearted life.  Letting go of what no longer serves me and focusing on what lights me up.  Most importantly though, I’m enjoying the journey. ♥

 

About Elizabeth Milligan

Elizabeth is an aromatherapist and quiet creative.  She is currently redesigning her life and work around her own wholehearted values of creativity, positive interaction with nature, and slow and simple living.  You can find Elizabeth online at www.elizabethmilligan.com or on Instagram and Twitter as @libbylibellule.

 

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top and below) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes developments on coaching, personality assessment offerings, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world.

My free ebook on the ’36 Books that have Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ is coming out in the next week for subscribers only – so sign up to receive it! Just pop your email in the sign-on box and it will be with you within a week. 

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality based on Jung/Myers-Briggs theory.

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel. The links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Our heart always knows the way – a wholehearted story

Shining a quiet light – working the gifts of introversion

How to make the best of introvert strengths in an extraverted world

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

coaching personality and story

Creative and connected #11 – on the special value of self-leadership

August 25, 2017

 “Become a scientist of your own experience.”

Elizabeth Gilbert quoting her guru on The Good Life Project

self-leadership

Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed this week on self-leadership and how we work towards being wholehearted through taking personal action.

My guest post on How To Become The Heart Of Successful Leadership featured recently on WorkSearch.com. It celebrates the art of self-leadership and knowing yourself as a leader. It was based on the recently published book, Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude by Raymond M Kethledge and Michael S Erwin. My personal experience as a leader, introvert, life-long learner and committed autodidact also influenced my thoughts and reflections.

Two key threads underlie Quiet Writing: one is being wholehearted and how we create our stories; the other is self-leadership and how we work towards being wholehearted through taking personal action. The key to taking action and knowing which actions to take are:

  • knowing ourselves and what we value and desire
  • learning to listen to our inner knowing
  • understanding our innate personality, including its strengths and what is challenging for us
  • seeking out, incorporating and acting on influence and inspiration from others.

My thoughts on wholehearted self-leadership stem from being a leader in the workplace and learning from this experience. The leadership of creativity and my impact on others’ ability to be innovative has been a key theme in my life’s work. I’m interested in how this lens can now be applied more broadly so that self-leadership is a way of promoting self-driven approaches to more holistic career and creativity.

The key aspects I have chosen to focus on in Quiet Writing are:

  • Life Coaching – for wholehearted self-leadership
  • Writing – to discover our wholehearted stories and in this how we strive for creative lives and careers
  • Personality assessment and exploration – to be able to explore our personality stories through Jung/Myers-Briggs frameworks and other perspectives to help us in our quest for understanding, accepting and knowing ourselves.

These three threads interweave throughout Quiet Writing. Today, let’s focus on the special value of self-leadership: what it means to me and what’s in the literature about this idea so that we can build on it together.

Podcasts on aspects of self-leadership

It was difficult to find podcasts specifically on this subject. This made me reflect on what self-leadership is and how my listening and reading choices and influences now and over the years are part of self-leadership. How I’ve decided to spend my time, who I’ve decided to engage with and listen to and read and who I’ve decided to learn from and study with – are all part of my self-leadership choices, especially as a self-directed learner.

I wrote many years ago about My Seven Stars and it’s amazing how these stars still influence me today. They have reappeared in critical podcasts this week, with themes that reappear over time. This week seemed to be all about these influences coming together in new ways.

Susannah Conway on Building a Heart-centred Business – on The Priestess Podcast with Julie Parker

This podcast felt like two parts of my world coming together – both centred around building a heart-centred business. Susannah Conway is one of my seven stars from my 2010 post, so I have been connected with her for a long time. I have done just about all of Susannah’s fabulous ecourses and each has been a critical part of my life, especially Blogging from the Heart. She has inspired my notions of building a heart-centred business.

When I made a plan to pursue Life Coaching as a new wholehearted career, I was naturally looking for a program aligned to my goals of being heart-centred. It was such a thrill to find Julie Parker and the Beautiful You Coaching Academy. I have just finished this life-changing program and am now a Beautiful You Life Coach working with clients. To hear Susannah and Julie talk together on this podcast – their first chat together – about building a heart-centred business was amazing. It’s a fabulous example of self-leadership in action as they follow their hearts in business. And it’s not with a business plan, but with a passion and desire to make a difference and connect authentically with people.

Curiosity and the Passion Fallacy – Elizabeth Gilbert on Jonathan Fields’ The Good Life Project

Jonathan Fields is another person I’ve followed for many years. He is a big fan of the examined life and what makes a good life. Elizabeth Gilbert is another major influence on writing and creativity and especially how we can give ourselves permission and take charge. This conversation was full of gems about self-leadership in life and creativity and especially the role of curiosity and learning. I love the quote that heads this post that Elizabeth cites as advice from her guru: “Become a scientist of your own experience.” I love that thought of having self-compassion as we learn and not beating ourselves up too much as we try new things on our journey. I need to listen to this one again with a notebook in hand.

Feels like the first time – on Personality Hacker with Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge

Knowing our personality type and its strengths and challenges is a key part of Quiet Writing. That’s why I’ve gained certification in personality assessment given the impact that knowing more about my personality type had on me. It was another life-changing step on my self-leadership journey. On the Personality Hacker podcast, Joel and Antonia talk about their recent experience of learning more about their personality and how, even as experts in this space, it felt like the first time. They talk about how we can resist integrating parts of our personality and that it may take time to absorb the information, especially for the more challenging aspects. This podcast highlights how learning about yourself is an ongoing and open-ended adventure which can be so enlightening.

How to be a writer: traditional publishing to indie and hybrid – with John Birmingham on The Creative Penn

Joanna Penn is another of my seven stars and not a week goes by when I don’t learn something from her! So much of being an indie author is about self-leadership and self-learning. This chat with Australian author, John Birmingham, was a fantastic insight into the publishing industry. It shows how, even for experienced full-time writers, indie publishing offers a self-directed alternative that puts control and resources back in the author’s hands. It’s an honest and fascinating account of how John Birmingham took himself through this shift to being hybrid for practical reasons. Great to hear an Aussie voice on the show too!

 

Lead Yourself First

Books and reading notes

My reading week

In line with my recent post on reading more productively and the accountability here, I’ve been reading a few books concurrently. I’m reading Sharon Blackie’s If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging in hard copy and also Spitting Blood: The History of Tuberculosis by Helen Bynum as an ebook. Both very different reads, but fascinating in their own way.

I’ve also been listening to Write. Publish. Repeat. (The No Luck Required Guide to Self-publishing Success) by Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant with David Wright, as an audiobook. The authors make their living as full-time indie authors and tell you how they did it and make money from it. And yes, there’s a lot of self-developed knowledge and self-leadership in there – including a heap of mistakes they’ve learnt from. There’s a lot of swearing and honest fun in this practical book based on years of experience.

I’ve also been really hard at work reading my own ebook ’36 Books that Shaped my Story: Reading as Creative Influence’ as I prepare to send it out into the world to Quiet Writing subscribers! There’s been so many practical stumbling blocks and so much learning as I go through my own first self-publishing journey. My plan is to launch on 3 September so make sure you sign up to Quiet Writing so you can receive it!

Book and blog notes on this week’s theme of self-leadership

First mention goes to the fabulous ‘Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude‘ by Raymond M Kethledge and Michael S Erwin. Reading this book intensively over a weekend as for the guest post, How to Become the Heart of Successful Leadership, was a deep, immersive read on the aspects of self-leadership at the heart of being a successful leader. This was something I had long known and felt myself, as the post explains. This book really helped to understand these aspects of self-leadership in a new and thorough way.

Based on case-studies of leaders and interviews with contemporary leaders, it is full of grounded advice on managing the self as the first step in leading others. It’s about how people need solitude to be clear and in touch with themselves as they lead. And it’s not just about introverts; the case study examples show that extraverts also need to check in with themselves through solitude especially in challenging leadership circumstances. I highly recommend this excellent book. More in my guest post – so hop over to WorkSearch.com and have a read!

To be honest, the idea of self-leadership has been with me for quite a while. It was there before I read ‘Lead Yourself First’ and before I found anything online about it. It emerged from my own thinking and experiences, especially ‘wholehearted self-leadership’ as a central focus of Quiet Writing.

It’s been interesting to see what is already out there about self-leadership. So here’s a snapshot of some information.

Self Leadership International which provides the definition:

Self-leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviors on the way to getting there.

The article What is self-leadership reinforces the central role of self-leadership in leadership and making a difference. The article postulates that self-leadership begins with self-awareness and self-management then shifts to awareness and management of others.

Derek Lauber provides 8 principles in The zen of self-leadership, based on the premise that:

Self-leadership is your ability to masterfully lead yourself so you can create the success you want for yourself, your family, your business and your life.

In Self-leadership and success, Brett Steenbarger’s thoughts are most in line with what I am thinking about. He says:

Think of your life as a diversified organization. You are in the business of living….

When you think about it, you are the CEO of a rather diversified enterprise. Any such business requires capable leadership.

His key message is that:

Self-leadership begins when we stop prioritizing tasks and start prioritizing the elevated state in which we are most productive.

This is very valuable advice! I see our personal productivity as a key piece in being positive self-leaders.

ferry

Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:

A favourite blog read this week was Nicole Cody’s post on healing stones and their energies, something I am exploring more. I sought out a few key stones this week that were calling me: amethyst, citrine, black tourmaline, amazonite and carnelian.

On Instagram, there’s been plenty of activity around Susannah Conway’s The August Break focused around noticing, community and inspiration. My photo for ‘silver’ this week featured the shimmering waters of the beach beckoning me. I haven’t been there as much as I would like and need to get back after being unwell. One thing I’ve learnt about self-leadership is that self-care and exercise is a huge part of it! I need to honour this.

self-leadership

On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives

On Quiet Writing, it was busy behind the scenes as I worked on my 36 Books ebook. I also prepared for our next ‘Wholehearted Stories’ post on Monday in partnership with the author. I can’t wait to share this beautiful story with you from a very special guest blogger.

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have continued to be a rich source of inspiration and insight for my journey. Thanks for all the creative interactions. It was so lovely to celebrate the arrival of Lisa McLoughlin’s Life Design Cards along with my healing stones this week. It’s a deck focused on tools and practices for self-leadership and ‘weaving a different story’. It was lovely when #28 ‘Enjoy the lush and flourishing’, popped up to say hello with the message:

Through the simplest of pleasures, be more present to the warmth, colourfulness and juiciness of life. What is holding you back from making pleasure a priority?”

Indeed. It’s a good time for getting unstuck in many ways.

Have a fabulous creative weekend!

Life Design Cards

Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday and the previous posts are below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

Feature image via pexels.com

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free e-book on the books that have shaped my story is coming soon – so sign up to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Creative and Connected #9 – on the art and love of reading

Creative and Connected #8 – ways to honour your unique life blend

inspiration & influence personality and story

Creative and Connected #8 – Ways to honour your unique life blend

August 4, 2017

Onlyness is that thing that only that one individual can bring to a situation. It includes the journey and passions of each human.

Nilofer Merchant

unique blend

Inspiring resources to keep you creative and connected – this week with a focus on ways to honour your unique blend or onlyness.

Here’s a round-up of what I’ve enjoyed and shared this week on various social platforms on finding and honouring your unique blend of passions, skills and experience. A term for this, created by Nilofer Merchant, is ‘onlyness’. Whatever we call it, it’s about how you bring the threads of your unique personality, experience together so you can shine and have impact as only you can.

Finding my unique blend

I’ve been on a journey of transition over the past year, seeking to shift to a life focused around Life Coaching and Writing and feeling more wholehearted each day.

In going through this journey, I’ve really had to do think about the unique skills, knowledge and experience that I bring forward from my previous roles and experience. It’s so easy to leave pieces of ourselves behind as we seek to change. But all those pieces of who we are make up our uniqueness or onlyness in the world.

Nilofer asks in her 2012 TED Talk on this theme:

Who are you? What makes you so unbelievably special? What is it that calls you into this world and how can you bring it out so other people can see it. When we learn to stand in our onlyness, we actually celebrate the kickassness that we are. And that to me is the key. How do we unlock that part of us that is so kickass. And so incredibly different and our story to bring into the world. Because when we do that it will unlock that part of us to be more fully alive.

She further comments on her talk on her website saying:

It’s not that everyone will, but that anyone can contribute.

And until we celebrate onlyness, we are not honoring the person. And, until you unlock your onlyness, you are not fully alive. And, collectively, until we honor onlyness, we are limiting ourselves, our organizations and our economies.

So in the spirit of helping us all unlock that ‘kickassness’, here are some recent and favourite resources and references on this theme.

And I welcome your contributions in the comments or on Facebook or Instagram about your favourite resources for bringing our unique stories, onlyness and blend of life alive. Let’s share so we all can shine!

Podcasts on honouring your unique life blend

How to Turn Ideas into Impact with OnlynessNilofer Merchant on Jonathan Fields Good Life Project

The whole concept of bringing together the threads of our story is a central part of Quiet Writing and being wholehearted. In the Beautiful You Coaching Academy program that I have just finished, we worked through the concept of ‘onlyness’ and our unique blend of skills as a central thread in the course. And I’d been working through this with my coach as well before I started my life coaching program.

But I hadn’t really concentrated on the work of Nilofer Merchant until this week! I love Jonathan Field’s podcast, it’s always full of treasures and this one was a beautiful one to be brought to my attention. So I bring it to yours!

This conversation is all about our unique capacity to make a big impact to change the world. As the show notes point out, especially with social media and technological change,

….we’re living in times that, maybe for the first time ever, have made it possible for people who’ve been marginalized, disenfranchised and stripped of power to bring forth and build momentum around ideas that, in her words, are mighty enough to “dent the world.

Merchant believes that everyone can contribute and:

The fact that we don’t is society’s greatest problem and the greatest opportunity.

The TED Talk is awesome too, so I encourage you to listen and reflect on your onlyness and unique blend of skills.

Your Body of Work with Pam Slim – The Creative Giant Show with Charlie Gilkey

Pamela Slim is another fabulous champion of finding our unique blend of skills and body of work. Pam’s work focuses on identifying the special ingredients that thread together in our lives. She especially looks at how they have played out over the long term through our body of work.

Pam talks with Charlie Gilkey about transitions and how we find work that is significant for our unique blend of skills and the mode of life that serves this. This might be creative entrepreneurship or any way of building a business around values that are important to us.

Books and reading notes

My reading week

I’ve continued reading David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity on work and identity. This book also featured in Our Heart Always Knows the Way – a wholehearted story on Quiet Writing this week.

I’m also enjoying Jojo Moyes’ Paris for One. I love Jojo Moyes and have read pretty well all her books and this is a fun, relaxing read that has kept me quietly smiling.

I’ve also continued reading The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon, by Scott Baker as an audio book. As a result, I’ve started using dictation for my emails and other writing in a small way as I start to employ these skills. It’s been exciting and will let you know how this goes as it evolves.

body of work

Book notes on this week’s theme of onlyness and unique life blend:

Pamela Slim’s book, Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together, has been a go-to book for me as I’ve negotiated this time of transition. I’ve read it as an ebook and audiobook soaking it all in, then bought the hard copy book, because I need it right by me each day.  This book focuses on how you can tease out the threads that tie your story together – the values, the skills, the themes, the ingredients of you. It also identifies how you can use this skill and knowledge to find new ways to do your work in the world.

Nilofer Merchant also explores ideas around onlyness, your unique blend and how to use this to impact the world in her new book, The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World. This book will be released later this month and looks a fascinating read on finding our purpose and power and acting on it for change and impact.

11 Rules for Creating Value in the #SocialEra is an earlier book by Nilofer Merchant premised on the fact that “value creation in the 21st century starts with each of us”. I haven’t read this as yet but have downloaded as an ebook. It has 4.6/5 stars on Amazon with fabulous reviews so look forward to exploring this one.

The other book I would recommend on this theme is Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work This book is about how we find our power by turning professional and doing the work. He talks about shadow careers which are a metaphor for the real thing:

Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. That shadow career is a metaphor for a real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalisingly the same. But a shallow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us. (P13)

Blog/Twitter/Instagram posts and interactions:

Part of our unique blend of skills is how we connect with others. A Study of the Champagne Industry shows that women have stronger networks and profit from them.

I want to share with you this post from a member of the Quiet Writing community, Kerstin Pilz, on Tiny Buddha, How a 10 day silent retreat helped heal my grieving heart because it is such a beautiful wholehearted story.

In Guided Meditation and Tips for Spiritual Grounding, Nicole Cody reminds us about the power of being grounded as we go through challenging circumstances and provides practical tips for keeping well grounded.

I also enjoyed this piece on Forest Bathing: A Retreat to Nature can Boost Immunity and Mood by Allison Aubrey via Dave Stachowiak on Twitter.

Clearly, I am looking for ways to ground myself and connect with nature at this time! I’m going back to swimming tomorrow after an interrupted time with illness and minor surgery, so cannot wait for that. Swimming is very grounding for me.

On Quiet Writing and Tarot Narratives

On Quiet Writing, I have been exploring this theme in various ways of how we find the threads that bring our story together for more wholehearted living. I see a critical part of finding our whole heart as identifying the central pieces that connect our narrative. Sometimes these have become lost along the way in our life. Or they may have manifested as a shadow career, not quite hitting the mark of where we want to go. Or maybe we just haven’t pulled the pieces together in a way that we can see new options.

Here are some relevant posts on Quiet Writing on this theme:

The unique voice of what we love

How knowing your authentic heart can make you shine

Our heart always know the way – a wholehearted story

Creative and Connected #4 – the wholehearted edition

My Tarot Narratives on Instagram have continued to be a rich source of inspiration and insight for my creative journey. Thanks for all the creative interactions. On honouring our unique life blend into action, in a recent post, Sharon Blackie in ‘If Women Rose Rooted’ reminds us:

”But sooner or later, no matter how cleverly we try to hide ourselves, to turn away from the truth, we are called to change. To wake up, and to see, and so to take responsibility. To reclaim our power, and to participate in the remaking of the world.” p83

Quotes on this theme

Just to finish, here a few fabulous quotes on this theme:

“Create your own style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”
Anna Wintour

“Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.”
Deepak Chopra

“Behind every mask there is a face, and behind that a story.”
Marty Rubin

“To be oneself, simply oneself, is so amazing and utterly unique an experience that it’s hard to convince oneself so singular a thing happens to everybody.”
Simone de Beauvoir, Prime of Life

“Be uniquely you. Stand out. Shine. Be colorful. The world needs your prismatic soul!”
Amy Leigh Mercree

And here’s the beautiful orchids continuing to come out in my garden. Almost every flower is out now and it’s such a stunning display.

Have a fabulous creative weekend!

 

unique blend

Creative and Connected is a regular post each Friday and the previous posts are below. I hope you enjoy it. I would love any feedback via social media or comments and let me know what you are enjoying too.

Feature image via pexels.com

Keep in touch

Subscribe via email (see the link at the top) to make sure you receive updates from Quiet Writing and its passions in 2017. This includes MBTI developments, coaching, creativity and other connections to help express your unique voice in the world. My free e-book on the books that have shaped my story is coming soon for subscribers only – so sign up to be the first to receive it!

Quiet Writing is on Facebook – Please visit here and ‘Like’ to keep in touch and interact with the growing Quiet Writing community. There are regular posts on intuition, influence, creativity, productivity, writing, voice, introversion and personality including Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

If you enjoyed this post, please share via your preferred social media channel – links are below.

You might also enjoy:

Creative and Connected #7 – how to craft a successful life on your own terms

Creative and Connected #6 – how to be a creative entrepreneur

How to make the best of introvert strengths in an extraverted world

Creative and Connected #5 – being accountable to ourselves and others

personality and story transition wholehearted stories work life

Our heart always knows the way – a wholehearted story

July 30, 2017

heart

Frustrated in the quest to find work and a life you love? Don’t despair, the greatest truth is that our heart always knows the way. 

This is the first guest post in our Wholehearted Stories series on Quiet Writing. I invited readers to consider submitting a guest post on their wholehearted story. You can read more here.  

In essence, Quiet Writing celebrates wholehearted living and writing, career and creativity and I am keen for a community of voices to be telling their story of what wholehearted living means here in this space. In this way, we can all feel connected on our various journeys and not feel so alone. Whilst there will always be unique differences, there are commonalities that we can all learn from and share to support each other.

I am thrilled to have my dear friend, Katherine Bell, as the first ‘Wholehearted Stories’ contributor. Katherine and I met through an online course, The Introvert Effect, created by Katherine Mackenzie-Smith. When I talked on a group phone call about my planned transition to a more wholehearted way of life, Katherine reached out to me afterwards, sensing a connection in our stories. We have been firm and amazingly synchronistically connected friends ever since, supporting each other and sharing a love of books and especially of David Whyte, who features in this story.

I hope you enjoy Katherine’s story, poem and exquisite photography. My sincere thanks to Katherine for her beautiful contribution to Quiet Writing.

Starting out on my journey towards wholehearted life and work  

This is not a romantic story. Certainly others found it inspiring to start with—a quest towards a better life is something we can all relate to … for a time. But when the initial 12 months I had planned (what was I thinking?) grew into 18, then 24 … then five years and there were no tangibles like an impressive job title, a book, or the usual manifestations we take as evidence that someone has a successful life … well, cue crickets chirping and tumbleweed rolling down the deserted street.  

Not long after my 39th birthday, with my life in a dire mess, I checked myself into a psychologist. I naively approached this as I would manage a work project, and estimated that I would be fixed before I turned 40. I was about to learn that inner work—deep inner work—is nowhere near linear. My biggest challenge was that I didn’t know what I wanted, despite recognising that I was desperately unhappy. I also felt that something was wrong with me, as the kind of prescribed life my partner of nearly 20 years had envisaged for us—and that everybody else seemed to want as well—was just not me. I felt like the Ugly Duckling, I simply didn’t belong.  

A beacon of hope 

It wasn’t until a friend passed a copy of David Whyte’s ‘Crossing the Unknown Sea—Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity to me around the same time that I recognised a voice like my own for the first time, and dared to hope that there was another way for work, relationship, life— a way that fit with me, instead of my feeble attempts to contort in ever-increasingly painful ways to fit with it. I can vividly recall the night I started to read it. I was in the bathtub (my Fortress of Solitude in those days) again feeling like the Ugly Duckling. But this time, the experience was akin to the duckling’s heart both leaping and aching when he looked up to see beautiful swans—his own kind—flying overhead. I recognised in David Whyte a kindred other who lived at depth, even though I did not quite know what living at depth was at that time.  

heart

This simple, profound recognition was enough to start me on the journey of my own unknown sea. Here, finally, was someone else who had crossed that sea, I recognised his voice, and I knew I belonged in some way to that pilgrimage. Fast forward to the present day, and with a small, knowing smile I say that the recognition was of my own voice. The best gift of David Whyte’s words have not been their beauty, nor their inspiration (as profound as both are) but the validity, the permission, they gave to my own words, my own voice. There was nothing wrong with me after all, I was not a duckling, I was a swan. I had simply been surrounded with voices that did not recognise mine.  

With that first heart-leap of recognition, and the simple permission given by the Wonderful Mr Whyte, I took the plunge into the unknown sea towards work, life and relationship that was wholehearted. I tackled the problem in the only way I knew how to at the time, which was to leave my job, home, partner and city in the same week (not recommended) and take flight to the other side of the world for six weeks. My entire known life was in storage, ready to be dealt with when I got back.  

In this way I jumped into my own metaphorical boat with not a clue (thankfully) of the squally territory that lay ahead, or that I would feel at sea for several years. I say “feel at sea” as in reality we are never truly lost, or alone, it just feels that way, and part of our quest is to be able to endure the inevitable crises of discomfort, discouragement, or despair. It’s a riding out of the storm, knowing that it will eventually pass.  

Allowing our heart direction to emerge 

I think the trip was the only part of the plan that made sense, in hindsight. It gave me the relief and spaciousness I needed—both literally, staying in remote parts of the English countryside and roaming open fields, mountains, and wild clifftops in the rain, and metaphorically, in starting to thaw out from what had been a fraught existence, both at work and home, for long years at a stretch. I felt like I was emerging from a coma and needing to learn what was real again. This was in the smallest of ways to begin with, an almost imperceptible turning of my head and simple noticing of what elicited a positive reaction in me, like surprise at hearing the unfamiliar sound of my own laugh.    

heart

It was a significant shock when I returned to Australia without a home, job, partner or any structure to my life and needed to take the first breath of my new life. I moved to a regional town near my family, embarking on a series of experiments to find work that worked for me. Work, for me, is of central importance, and my experiences with it not working have been as painful as any of my life’s challenges. David Whyte elevates work to the status of a marriage in his book “The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship” and I agree with it being given this priority. This is especially so for those who are creative types—there is no divorcing ourselves from our work, they are one and the same entity.  

In Crossing the Unknown Sea, David Whyte talks of “having a firm persuasion in our work” (p.5) and that has certainly been the crux of my quest, taking precedence over relationship for a time. I have grappled with finding work that is heartfelt and resonant, and what has looked like foolishness to others from a financial perspective has been a dogged determination to settle for nothing less. I certainly miss elements of my former lifestyle, but in resolutely setting my sail to my own course I can say I am at peace and happy.  

My golden rule is that as mine is the only head to hit my pillow each night, I’m best qualified to set that sail, as long as I am staying aligned to what is true for me. It has, however, been stressful in needing to hold out far longer than I envisaged, yet the alternative—the life I used to live and the work I used to do—is no more an option for me as running a race if I no longer had legs. As Whyte’s friend Brother David said to him “You are only half here, and half here will kill you after a while. You need something to which you can give your full powers” (p.132).  

Discovering my work  

The only idea I had about what my right kind of work looked like was that I wanted to write. Knowing that I wasn’t interested in writing fiction was at least a start. I stumbled through exploring writerly activities such as creating a blog, writing poetry, entering writing competitions, and applying for a writing scholarship. However, apart from the cathartic blog and poetry, it felt as though I was contorting myself again into a shape that wasn’t quite right. Thankfully, as Rumi says, “what you seek is seeking you”, and I soon had an opportunity presented to write for a research organisation, work which I found I truly loved. All my clumsy attempts and experiments had in fact been my apprenticeship to the kind of writing I love. In revisiting an earlier journal I discovered the prophetic words:  

“My work will be a melange of my heart – not just one thing, it will be a blend of all the things that make my heart glad: writing, thinking, researching; the alchemy of ideas”. 

Here was evidence that my heart had known all along, I had just not been in a place to hear it, let alone respond to it. 

heart

The benefit of hindsight 

Hindsight shows us that all experiences—even the most painful—prepare us for our own particular work. Some experiences are definitive (like David Whyte’s influence on me, foundational stones to the structure of the work which only we can do) and some are transitional, forming the scaffolding we need to emerge ever so slowly until ready to stand and reveal our work to the world.    

If I could rewind the clock and give myself some advice to make the journey easier, it would centre on the following. 

  • There is no timeframe in matters of the heart, especially when needing to find a way back to life after being metaphorically dead as I was. It will take as long as it will take, even if you are just a little lost. Don’t try to plan and control it; it will only cause additional pain. I think one of the most important things is that any emotional or psychic recovery needs to be given the same credence as a physical injury. I have had to constantly adjust my expectations of the timeframe of recovery, likening it to having every bone, muscle, ligament broken and undergoing extensive rehabilitation, and learning to live again being more than a little changed.    
  • Be kind and patient … with yourself. I wish I had cut myself some slack along the way; I was really doing the best I knew how to at any given point, as feeble as that was. 
  • The truth is not that everything will be OK, it’s that it already is. Time and time again I have had to remind myself “all is well”. Even in the darkest moments, the truth is that everything is working for us when we are aligned to our hearts, not against us.   
  • It’s not a journey with a destination. I’m still not there, and I don’t think I ever will be. As David Whyte says, it’s a ‘continuing conversation’. The important thing is that we keep showing up, open-hearted, looking for the Hansel and Gretel trail that leads us ever homewards, crumbs as clues left behind by an engaged and benevolent Hand (whether we understand that to be our God, our Higher Self, or whatever language we use to give meaning and shape to our spirituality). 

From the time I first recognised David Whyte’s voice (and ultimately my own) in the bath all those years ago to now, I trust my little boat, metaphor for my heart, to carry me ever onwards. I have nothing to fear while I’m aligned to it. My only request is that after several years at stormy sea, I’m soon taken to safe harbour for a little respite, perhaps where I can feel the warmth of the sun of friendship and community on my face. Then, as it is now, all will be well.  

Postscript 

This reflective journey has led me back to a poem that I first started to write as I walked the clifftops in England all those years ago, with my own unknown sea stretched before me. Whilst not originally written with the intention of sharing it, it seems to fit so beautifully into my story that I offer it here.  

 

After

It turns out (in the end) that I am far
stronger than we all thought.

Surprisingly,
I chose to be brave at morning’s first light,
however grey and dim it appeared then.

Turning towards the east
to walk ever closer to the Ocean of Who Knows What,
throwing my face and caution
to the biting wind of my vulnerability,
stripped of all pretence and belief
for better, or for worse:
Strengthened
or at last, Ruined.

In angry defiance
—or quiet acceptance?—
I signed up, took the gamble,
declaring “See here?
This, this is my Mark,
my Consent,
my Line In The Sand
of how I will live and be in this world.
And if I die at this brutal hand
well …
at least I felt the sharp slap and bite of the wind,
the driving rain that hurt my eyes and became my tears,
and the aching weight of loss
after loss
—how will I bear it?—
but knowing at last,
This was Me
I had reached Land’s End,
And I refused to go into hiding again.

Standing on the cliff buffeted, yet
Resolute, watching
the cruel sea
Relentless against captive rocks,
I thought “Poor things, they’re just like me…
—pounded and near-drowned”.

Then pounded and near-drowned some more.

In years to come I will know that in
choosing to live
at risk of the Open Sea
I breathed
walked
and dreamed
Awake
Alive
in this beautiful and vicious world
that sometimes despised,
sometimes loved me
(I never knew which it was).

crossing the unknown sea

 

About Katherine Bell 
Katherine Bell
Before turning to the quieter world of writing, editing and research, Katherine worked for 25 years in the corporate sector across multiple industries in senior administrative and strategic project roles. Making a tree-change from Sydney to regional NSW several years ago, Katherine is passionate about promoting research that translates into real-life outcomes. She is currently working on forming an alliance with other corporate escapees who share her passion for making the workplace more humane and sustainable, particularly for those who are introverted or highly sensitive. Co-founder of  The Edit Bureau she also assists academics in Australia and overseas with getting their work published.

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