40 fabulous lessons in life in no particular order. Why? Because it’s my 40th Birthday and I am reflecting on how I have survived, and how I have lived!

I have been through a great deal and I have learnt so much… and much more to come no doubt.

Thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes so far!

I was very unhappy about turning 40. Like I got really sad- as if I can stop it lol.(Am I the only one who had a freak out at 40?)

I just feel like there is SO much to do and I have these expectations about what I feel I should  have accomplished by now… and still haven’t. So I have flipped my perspective.

I am grateful for everyone, every lesson and what I have achieved so far, SO there really isn’t anything to get sad about right?

There are other lessons too of the humorous kind I could write about too… like making sure you point the chisel away from you when chiselling… yeah that’s the kind of stuff I do. I have the scars to prove it!

I’ll save that blog for another day!

These are more about life- 40plus lessons for 40 years! My gift to you!

Which ones resonate with you?

  1. LEAD WITH LOVE! Always act with a heart of love in your conduct and attitude. The world will make a way. You will attract likeminded and compassionate people who will stand alongside you in life, in friendship, in love, in your drive and mission. In all things, lead first with love.
  2. Family is essential! Honour them. However or wherever you find them (blood or chosen) you need connection and love. Honour and respect them always. Even if they hurt you- you have a choice. You still have respect.
  3. You need safe spaces.  We all need a place to be ourselves. Where you can let your guard down and share your secrets. Cultivate safe spaces, and keep them safe for your safe people. You will build legacies, not just friendships.
  4. Your health is one of the most important things in life. Without your health, life is tough. It diminishes your capacity and steals your passion. (Also why family is essential)
  5. You are a vessel. If there are holes in the ship it sinks. Self-care is essential for longevity. If you want to do your thing, you can’t do it in a sinking ship. Honour your boundaries, honour yourself and what you need.
  6. First impressions last. Life is really busy, and people have a lot on their plate. Standing out means making sure you’re not forgotten- for the right reasons. Nothing solidifies that more than a first impression. (i.e. a great handshake)
  7. Consistency is key. People trust consistency. It breeds reliability. Be consistent and show up. Always.
  8. Kindness doesn’t cost anything. There is plenty to be upset about, but being kind is a choice. You can choose kindness over contempt.
  9. Be excellent always. You don’t have to be perfect. There is no such thing. But if you are trying, and work hard, give your best, go above and beyond – you will reap the rewards. Your reputation will precede you. You will be known because you seek the best in yourself and your work ethic.
  10. Grace is powerful – In all of its forms. But being courteous and polite will always bring favour. Have grace for yourself, and others.

  11. Persist Powerfully– Never Give up. It is how I survived, and how I continue. Persist Powerfully- with conviction, with decision, with fierceness. Like there is no plan B.
  12. You have a choice. Not easy, especially as a survivor, but standing up for yourself is powerful and it’s your right.  You have a choice in all things. whether you exercise the right to choice is up to you. Knowing you have one is another. You deserve a choice, and you can choose.
  13. Honour your boundaries– Let No mean No, and Yes mean Yes. Toxic people steal your joy. Invest in good people who love you and lift you, challenge and grow you. Compromising is great, but honour yourself, your boundaries and  your decisions.
  14. Honour your word to others- Integrity is key, and if your word can’t be trusted, neither can you.
  15. Honour your word to yourself– Lying to yourself only hides you from yourself.
  16. Let no person hold power over you– Life is short. I have for a long time allowed my past and my story to hold power over me because of the shame I felt. That shame belongs to the perpetrator.
  17. Pursue with passion– Is there another way? Whatever you do in life, do it with passion and purpose. If you can’t then it’s not your thing. Those who pursue the things that are not in their heart reap bitterness and resentment. It hurts everyone. Live your dreams. Your passion. Your purpose. Anything else is to deny your unique gift to this world.
  18. Embrace ALL of it. I have learnt to ALLOW myself to feel all of it. The hurt. The happiness, the shame, and grief and all of the emotions. I feel lots of things. It is all ok. I have had people try to tell me how I should feel, to shut it out, upshot away… Shutting it out, means shutting myself and everyone else out too. This is  your humanity. This is a gift. Feel all of it.
  19. We are all unique. Every person is different. The things that make us different are interesting and fun, and promotes innovation and diversity.
  20. We are not higher or lower than ANY human on this planet. This promotes humility- there is not ONE person above you, or below you. We are all equal. When you realise you are but one decision away from poverty, or your whole life changing you see how it all hangs in a delicate balance. Your significance is measured by the size of your heart.
  21. We are the same. We are unique, but we are human and ALL experience the same emotions and feelings- just sometimes in a different way. This is the nature of humanity.
  22. When life hands you lemons make cheesecake. Why not? Lemon cheesecake is delicious. You can’t change what happens in the world, only your place in it, your role, and you might as well eat cheesecake- right?
  23. You matter! Your voice matters. When you learn your value, the world takes on new meaning. We all matter and we all have a part to play.
  24. Honour your friendships, your community, your tribe. Treat your connections like family. Honour your boundaries, but those who you have a heart connection with a so valuable. You need them. They need you.
  25. NEVER go to bed angry. Anything can happen. Life can be given and taken so quickly. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Forgive quickly. Love fiercely. Give freely.  Don’t lose your love over Bitterness and resentment.
  26. You must honour the truth inside you OR it will eat away at you like a disease. The truth will and does eventually set you free. You have a story? You have a secret? I promise you, holding on to it is harder in the long run than keeping it held inside you. This goes for everything. Your identity, your past, your ideas, your rights and wrongs, morals and values.
  27. Let your words ALWAYS be loving and kind. I have heard so many regrets when people have lost loved ones tragically because they have fought. You can choose how you act. Let others choose their own path for that part is out of your control.
  28. Work Hard. The world owes you nothing, but hard work teaches you humility and patience. There is also something to be said about not being financially stressed. Being able to have what you need because you have learnt the value of hard work is a lesson on gratitude. You can’t always control the world around you but at least having the ability to support your tribe when things get hard, creates connection and community.
  29. Be Authentic. The world is full of fake people and it’s hard to find people you trust sometimes. Be a light. Be real. be the person who is reliable and trustworthy.
  30. Eat the cake. Enjoy life FFS. (In moderation) be happy, eat what you like, but do it in moderation. Do it with tribe and family.
  31. Take the time to learn about many things. Ask questions. I have lots of varied interests. It helps when you’re talking to people and you can connect in many circles. its a valuable tool.
  32. Meet people where they are at. We all have expectations of others, we all have thoughts and we all judge- that’s NOT what most people need. They want to be seen, loved and accepted exactly as they are and that is just fine. They think you don’t see them. Most people believe NO one can understand them or wants to. Be the person that allows people to be seen when they are with you.
  33. NEVER lose sight of the vision. I haven’t.  (Well I have tried not to) While it has taken a lifetime to get here, I am stepping into that vision I had at 12. Hold your image. Never forget what brings you joy and passion. Even if the path is wavering enjoy the journey and hold fast and persist powerfully.
  34. Be courageous. Be brave. It is hard to love after hurt. Hard to heal after harm. Hard to grow after grief and loss. But nothing is so hard as nothing. Be brave in your decisions. Push forward- be uncomfortable… every day. This is how you grow. This is how you heal. This is how you learn and unlearn.
  35. Be kind to yourself. We beat ourselves up so much. It only promotes self-loathing I promise you. Just be kind and compassionate towards yourself and others.  ALWAYS.
  36. It WILL be okay. It always seems so hard in the moment. The courage to hold on is hard. But you will ALWAYS get through it. You just have to decide and sometimes decide many times a day.
  37. Success is always about what you think it means. Life is ALL about perspective. What lens are you looking through? What are you comparing yourself to? Or Who? What is success today? Tomorrow? We are but a measure… of our own measures. How high are you setting the bar and whose bar are you setting?
  38. Are we there yet? We are always so impatient. On our phones, hiding from life. Rushing through life. WHAT ARE WE MISSING? What are you hiding from? When you are so BUSY, opportunities will come and go and you won’t see them. Life will come and go and you will miss it. PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN.
  39. Triggers are opportunities for triumph! We hide from what makes our heart race because it makes us uncomfortable. Living your best life means facing what ‘triggers’ us, learning ‘it’s’ lesson and then stepping into our growth.
  40. Your greatest pain, can be your greatest gift. I would never be grateful for my child abuse. What I am grateful for is that I have the tools available to me and I chose to do something with what has happened, and I can turn it into something powerful. I choose to leave a legacy I can be proud of. NOT one determined by someone else.
  41. LOVE IS LOVE. End of story. When you find a love that lifts you. Hold on to it.
  42. I don’t know anything! I have something to learn from everyone… even if it is that I should never take their advice again! lol
  43. Respect and heed the lessons of your parents, family, friends and love. There are many who love you enough to spend the time to share their lessons, life and learnings. While you don’t have to do it all, respect=listening. I am Grateful for the people in my life who take the time to honour what I need.

Like this? Tell me and maybe I’ll expand this and turn it into an ebook for you! With love and gratitude, Thank you all for your continued support and love!

Kel xo

Fuel meter

It’s been an epic few months! Needless to say, I feel like I have been running on empty! It’s not just a metaphor, it seems to be how we are all doing things these days and we wonder why we feel like we are stuck in a rut and ineffective. In reading this quote, and a few things happening this week, I decided it was time for a blog!

The importance of actually taking the time to reflect and review is essential to growth, but also in our healing journey. The art of healthy hyper-vigilance-If there is such a thing is anyone’s guess, but it lies somewhere in between a healthy balanced life, looking after yourself and an understanding and awareness of self. (I just came up with this based on my own experience, but It totally makes sense when we consider that most of us these days are operating at a high level of alertness and that is the norm. Any survivor, law enforcement personnel, or anyone living in a stressful lifestyle will understand hyper-vigilance)

When it comes to actual self- care… pfft… In the words of ‘Kimberly Sweet Brown’, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

I realise in the writing of my book “Unscathed Beauty,” and working full time and trying to balance all that I do – I am no expert and I am still learning. In fact, I have had many failures. However, one thing that I have come to recognise these past weeks is the power of self-care and discipline in healing. I have always known it’s important, in fact essential but the thing that I have always used as a coping mechanism. (busyness and distraction) mean’s that I haven’t really addressed parts of my healing that could well have benefitted from some actual intervention and time out.

It is very easy to get caught up in the chaos around us, whether that be our own chaos, or someone else’s. It’s a rare art form to maintain the external mask on the outside, and appear to the rest of the world like your world, ‘as they know it….’ is perfect. Its hard work keeping that mask looking unfazed… We become the masters of burying things, passing them off as nothingness, like pushing aside the panic attacks, dismissing those sweaty palms and failing to address fundamental issues that matter, like sleep!

Pretty soon we end with a very ugly mask… kinda like I was the other day and for the whole of this last week… sick, more snot than I knew what to do with…and quite literally my heart racing as I was running on empty… and barely making it to the destination. (I literally had been rushing around, going to doctors, looked horrible and almost ran out of fuel! It was a great metaphor for where I was at) 

When the case of Cardinal George Pell came through and there was huge media coverage surrounding the case and sentencing. A number of people messaged me and asked why I thought they weren’t coping, why they all of a sudden were struggling with issues they thought long buried, and why they felt triggered. This is when I wrote the blog, HARD WIRED TO SURVIVE.

I had to ask myself some questions then, and I find myself asking similar questions again in the aftermath of releasing my own story “Unscathed Beauty,” to the world. I have taken a step back, because I have at least learnt when I need to rest… recognise when I need to address certain issues, and ensure I follow through with what is important so I can remain effective. (not to mention friends and family in my ear about not burning the candle at both ends!) Maybe you have been through intense periods yourself… and perhaps your candle was burning at both ends!

There were a number of intense emotional battles throughout the entire journey of writing that I had to overcome, but particularly in those last few weeks there seemed to be a number of hurdles that presented right at the last minute. Almost like someone was saying, you can’t do this…it’s too hard… It made me fearful, afraid and wondering what people would think. Old fears I thought I had overcome had re-surfaced. New fears had reared their head. New problems emerged and problems I thought I had fixed decided to show up again.

Its been a couple of weeks since the launch, and while I have still got lots to do I feel like I can breathe a little sigh of relief! (Thank God!) It’s time to refocus again…

Without writing another book, here are a few things that I am trying to focus on to achieve better self-care in order to be more effective. Some things I already do daily, others… well they have been a little neglected and pushed aside!

  1. SLEEP! Maintains healthy brain function, vital for good mental health, focus, and personal safety! Being tired means, I feel like I am in a fog. Unable to think, reason, or process information effectively.
  2. Eating a more balanced diet, increasing water, and increasing healthy food choices.
  3. When I observe triggers arising, take note, and deal with them immediately or in the near future. i.e. Panic attacks, or sweaty palms. When do they happen? What is it that is making me feel like this? Why now? (The quicker these issues are addressed, the less they become a problem as we seek to understand the why, and the how- means when the trigger arrives again we already have a strategy in place)
  4. Set boundaries and stick to them. I am still working out what these are for myself, but setting boundaries can sometimes be a hard thing to do for anyone who has experienced trauma of any kind. It is very hard to say what you need. It is even harder to enforce that boundary when it is challenged. For many, those boundaries have been violated and shifted, and for survivors it is ingrained into the psyche that what you want you simply either can’t have, or it comes at a cost i.e. your safety. (takes being brave continuously to a whole new level) A boundary could be simply (Personal boundaries) “I have the right to feel safe in my own home,” Or “No one has the right to enforce their thoughts, values and opinions onto me.” “I can say what I need without feeling judged.” (This is something I plan to do a lot more work on in the next 12 months!)
  5. Make decisions. (i.e. a conclusion reached after consideration (Oxford Dictionary)) Be brave in making decisions that hold value for you. Conclude means it’s final.. that is cutting off other thoughts. This is also about sticking to your boundaries, But I think it’s very important to the foundation of all you do. When you decide, you cease to give energy to things that are not taking you towards your goals.
  6. Make self-care a priority, even if it’s not a long time, ensure that you find some time each day that is simply about taking some time out.
  7. Acknowledge that you don’t have to do everything on your own. It’s okay to bring other people who you trust) into the situation who can help you. (i.e., a doctor, psychologist, friend)
  8. Hold your vision. While things can seem crazy, tiring and chaotic, don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve, your goals and your vision. It’s easy to get lost.

To do any of the above, and to look after yourself it really takes some discipline. That means holding on to your values, and the rules you have set for yourself… its hard, because when they are challenged, even by your own thoughts, the default emotion is shame and guilt. We then have to battle with this… and some people will play on that… but hold on! Stay brave and surround yourself with people who want you to succeed and be your best.

When you do have those triggers, or when something pops up for you that is challenging, i.e The Pell case, ‘Get help.’ Don’t ignore the feelings… my thoughts are simply that you have a choice now in allowing yourself to heal from whatever it is you are feeling. We can push it back down and the stress and effort it takes to hold that in will eventually rear its head elsewhere. Use the opportunity to heal and grow as things pop up for you.

Hope this helps a few people refocus and refuel the empty tank…!

Much Love,

Kel XO

Hard wired to survive

A dear friend of mine recently said, to me after I come across yet another obstacle in my journey to getting my book published, she said, “Oh Kel, Why do we always have to constantly be so &**()^ brave?” I actually dismissed the answer at the time… I didn’t mean to, but it’s such a big question.

I want to address it now at least, part of it. The mere definition of Brave means,“…to be ready to face and endure danger and pain, while showing courage and without showing fear…”Cambridge English Dictionary

I’m not sure how to answer her question, but i’ll give it a go! Here are just three ideas out of my list I would like to share with you about the struggle to keep our head up!

1.We are Hard-Wired to Be Brave.

We talk about fear all the time like it is a bad thing. We talk about being strong for a long time like it’s a bad thing. We talk about being in and enduring pain, fatigue, loneliness, heartache and trauma like its all so terrible. Well yes it’s not nice, its not pleasant, and its certainly uncomfortable and at times quite tragic…But we seem to forget… we were born… so we could live. We were born so we could survive.

Our body has been gifted with certain things to help us. For example; our brain, body, physical strength, creativity, and emotions all make up our hard wiring. If we never had a difficult time in our life, our brain would have no idea how to conceptualise what it sees, how it responds and the kind of reaction it will have to something. Your brain is wired with an internal alarm system.  Too much stimulus could quite possibly make the hard wiring short circuit, and that is when other coping strategies step in… then we learn to survive.  Sometimes those circuits rewire and make new pathways. Your brain is amazing like that.

We were born to survive and we are hard wired to ‘get through stuff.’ It can be tiring… but its not all bad! Our brain was designed to deal with things that scare us…and to come up with solutions and solve the problems in front of us. That creates resilience. It creates character. It builds people. You can be brave, you were born with the wiring in you!

2. Being Brave Leads to Growth.

Challenging yourself when you feel afraid, allows you the chance to grow and learn. If you have a fear response to a certain stimulus, learning to recognise whether it as a good or bad thing is a learned response. Challenging those learnt responses is what will provide you the opportunity for growth, healing, and change. That is part of the battle. The other, is knowing you will be safe when you open the door to that fear. Knowing what will happen when you accept that challenge. Will you be okay? Can you control the outcome?

Sometimes the greatest opportunities for growth come when you are brave enough to stop assessing the risk and just do it anyway. You cannot control everything. But you can learn how to challenge your fear responses.

3. Being Brave Helps us Move Forward.

It’s easy to stay where it is safe. It is easy to say that I can’t do it. It is easy to stay where you know, where nothing can get you, harm you, and kill you. Moving forward is an unknown. Yet we all want something in this life and that means we have a decision to make.

Do we stay where it’s warm and comfortable… or do we set sail and make the most of the journey we have. By being brave, you give yourself the chance to have the life you dreamed about before whatever hurt you made you too afraid to go and get it.I’m trying right now NOT to let those things get in the way of what I do next. Don’t stay where you are too long… you might miss the chance.

Yes I know how it feels to be tired. For those who have an understanding of the bible you might be familiar with the word Long-suffering.  I’m not saying don’t be comfortable, but just don’t hide when it get UN-Comfortable.  Be brave enough to see why you feel that way, and challenge the feeling.

We live in a world where we want things to be done now… and that includes wanting the pain to go away, the anger, the hurt. They are there for a reason and teach us about ourselves. We must listen. It also teaches us that we believe in something, that we love, are loved and have value.

We are all on a journey. Just don’t miss the best parts of it by being too comfortable. Trust that you have what it takes and move forward in whatever circumstance you are in, knowing you are hard wired to survive, to be brave… and you have what it takes to learn and grow.