Rest Your Mind On The Good Stuff

In my book A Journey of Creative Healing I tell my story of how as a young woman, widowed with two infant children, I was diagnosed, with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.  I had suffered random episodes of symptoms for a few years before these became too obvious to ignore.

Intuitively I rejected the diagnosis.   I felt that my illness was a reflection of traumas and challenges in my life and that my illness was a physical and emotional breakdown.

To dismiss the diagnosis over fifty years ago was not difficult as little was known of the disease, unlike today, there was no swag of information, no range of medication, very few support groups and no follow up evaluation by health professionals to consider how I would cope as the disease progressed.

Instead I focused on a daily creative project, it did not matter what, or how big it was, or how perfect the results were I just put my heart and soul into doing something creative every day.

I have always been convinced this intuitive step of not defining myself as the diagnosis was central in empowering the other simple common sense steps of acceptance, rest, quiet, gratitude and creativity to weave their healing magic.  This year I have been in remission for fifty-five years. 

 I am equally convinced that had I accepted the diagnosis and rested my mind on being a MS sufferer, my story would have played out in a very different fashion.

Today’s medical advancements are a far cry from the 1960’s and state of the art technological equipment provides as with a reliable and accurate diagnosis. Conclusively we see diagnosis is key to today’s successful management of that disease.

And it would be foolhardy to dismiss a diagnosis today.

Receiving a life-changing determination of what ails you focuses the mind keenly on the specific diagnostic definition.

But I still believe that it is counterintuitive to actually DEFINE yourself as the disease.  By define, I mean try it on for size, see that it fits, then live and breathe 24/7 being a ‘…………… sufferer.’

‘Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.’- Unknown

Define comes from the Old French word ‘definer,’ which is a variant of Latin meaning bring to an end, finish, mark the limit of. Our words have energy and power, especially ones that flag our suffering.  Quantum physics (way beyond my pay grade but I trust the science) say we are energy that attracts like-minded energy.

So be careful what you wish for or rather where you put your focus.

By necessity as a patient your life is focused on coping with treatment, medication and medical appointments.  But you can balance this with practical steps to change your focus

  • Make a determined effort to re-focus on doing what you love.
  • Daily – find somewhere quiet and encourage your imagination to see yourself content and in good health.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Avoid stress.
  • Banish the word from your everyday language or say ‘you are holding space for………’   
  • Ask family and friends to keep the word to a minimum. Ask them instead to actively visualise you as healthy and content.
  • Listen to your intuition and act upon it.

And when you able, in this wretched journey of ill health, have the courage to re-define your illness as a blessing seeing your sickness as simply the body and spirit’s way of saying ‘time-out’ to rediscover and renew you.

From this place you are no longer in conflict with the disease, and I have found, as many others have too, that when you get out of its way the body invariably knows how to heal itself.

 

Poles Apart

Those who have read my book A Journey of Creative Healing know that I put a great deal of value on listening to my intuition.

A couple of years ago I committed to write 75 days of a daily intuitive FB post. Today I got that inner nudge again to write as the muse or intuition directed. I found a quiet spot in the winter sun to quietly ask for guidance – ‘what do you want me to write?’

‘Intuition is perception via the unconscious that brings forth ideas, images, new possibilities and ways out of blocked situations.’    Carl Jung

My intuition gave me  a vision of a large pole stuck mid center of a space and the words ‘going round and round the pole.’ Vexing to say the least. But I did visualise myself doing exactly that — going around and around the pole.  ‘So what am I supposed to learn from this,’ I ask?
87706685The pole is seemingly immoveable, too tall to jump, too solid to push aside and there is only one way that I can get past it – is by going round it. I see it as something ugly —  a pale concrete column dominating a space while understanding this is an essential part of a building’s construction. I am irritated with my muse as she has set me a thankless task. I mentally tell her so. ‘Poles are poles,’ I say ’nothing more than holding up a roof, so what is the point of this exercise?’
My vision of the concrete column morphs from a pillar to a totem pole, carved exquisitely with its story of lineage, cultural beliefs and important events. I am intrigued with its significance. It seems that each figure on the totem pole represents a part of a story.A-Corbis-42-24133246_nlilf7
Carved from the cedar tree, totem poles are monumental sculptures that recall the characteristics of the clan or an historical event.
My perspective is changed —  here is the comfort of quality, tradition, art and lofty ideals embedded in my ‘pole’ vision.
An idiom springs to mind like ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ My moralistic little pest of intuition has set me on my heels again. But she is not finished with me yet – ‘what is obvious about this Mary?’
‘Well,’ I answer smugly, ‘ it is obviously the way we look at things, we can either see it as an obstacle or an opportunity.’
‘Yes it is Mary —  but reflect again,’

‘The pole or obstacle is you.’

You can make a choice to embrace it and make it an intrinsic and artistic expression of yourself,’

‘Or you can simply go through life trying to go round it.’

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Creative Journeys

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My parents and I on a summer holiday 1952

 

In my book A Journey of Creative Healing I tell how I believe  that committing to a creative project every day, come rain or shine, helped heal me from multiple sclerosis.

When that intuitive message came to do something creative everyday it made total sense as I had learned the joy and satisfaction of being creative from an early age.  My mother was the ultimate creative,  and an eminently kind gentle soul – I was her shadow,  I loved her beyond the widest ocean, higher than the sky and all of the tea in China!

My grandfather was a self-made man, he was an importer of coffee and dried fruits and conservative to the bone, which meant he did not believe in women working. Instead, Mummy learned to sew a fine seam, make all of her clothes and hats. She loved hats and wore clochethem well, so much so they became her signature dressing, ‘choose the hat first darling and the decision on the rest of the outfit falls into line.’

imagesWhen eventually my Grandfather gave permission for my parents to marry after seven years of ‘courting,’  in setting up her first home she rebelled against the heavily Victorian style of the house of her childhood and embraced the 1930’s cutting-edge-fashion of art deco. She was an avid collector of Clarice Cliff, the legendary ceramic artist’s pottery.  In the Blitz, we lost our home and everything in it.  Later when we lived with our grandfather, his house was hit by a V1 doodle bug and again all we had were clothes we stood in.

make do and mendMake Do & Mend’ was a government catchphrase during that time and my mother was very good at. She found a semi-detached house to rent and once again created a stylish home. There were no quarterly household item collections, there were no flea markets and furniture was scarcer than hen’s teeth with everything rationed. But she begged borrowed and made make-do-&-mend into an art form. Today’s home-stylists  would have adored her as she was the Queen of renovation.  She bought the old, tired and worn back to life;  recovering threadbare chairs and settees, French polishing scratched and dull furniture to a glowing patina and painting the house inside and out.

lampshadShe especially loved the spill of lighting from table lamps, overhead lighting was never used, and graced all of her many lamps with her hand-made pleated chiffon lampshades. She was equally at home in the garden and our small colourful blooming patches, both front and back, were the envy of neighbours.

She was a good cook, and when her father died and left her a small inheritance she set pinkup a small café. Immediately her morning and afternoon tea concept was a winner, people loved her sense of style, pink bone china for tea and for coffee, the first of its kind shatter free glass cups and saucers. Soon the market demanded luncheons and she started her day before sparrow twitter preparing, baking and cooking and achieving a regular sixty covers a day for lunch and a steady morning and afternoon trade.

She smoked, a pack of cigarettes a day, but elegantly like a glamorous heroine out of a forties film and died too young. She was a casualty of the English class system,  she identified herself as ‘upper middle class’ and fought to hang onto to this label throughout her life. Sadly if she had been asked to define herself her first priority would be ‘I am middle class, but upper middle class,’ instead of saying what a magnificent all-round nurturing Goddess that she was.

New Beginnings

It is by logic we prove, but intuition that we discover.’
Leonardo Da Vinci

L11905786_790074207784822_3394131547593915784_nittle voice of my Intuition what will you give me to write about today?

‘New Beginnings.’

Umm – New Beginnings. I see your reasoning it being New Year’s day.

‘Yes but what else is obvious about New Beginnings Mary? You know when I softly speak you should always look for the obvious in my message.

Well, New Beginnings obviously means something is ending. Right?

‘And?’

Well, to end, to leave, to finish and turn your back on the old can often be a painful uncomfortable process.

‘Do you think change needs to be painful Mary?’

I think if you want to make serious life changes it needs the impetus of the stone in the shoe. Without it one would continue on in the same old way. Pain is the crucible that facilitates change.

‘Like the phoenix rising from the ashes?

Yes, that is it. The painful work of letting go of the past is always rewarded by unparalleled, uncharted and beyond our wildest imagination New Beginnings.

Use Your Intuition for Podium Recognition

imagesIntuition is the gut feeling or insight that we all experience, but too often we allow our intellect to overrule the ‘sotto voce’ in our heads.

Many emergency workers whose job it is to keep people safe, trust their intuition inexplicably and act upon it immediately without questioning.  Like the story of the firefighter, who dousing a seemingly easily managed fire, knows instantly at gut level that he has to get out of the building.  He makes it out just in time to witness the building’s massive collapse and its eruption into a blazing inferno.

Intuition is an immediate knowing, a first flush of thought before the intellect tries to reason it out. It provides us with a sense of knowing that this is the right or wrong course to take, the decision to make or the person to trust or distrust.

Albert Einstein, a believer in the power of imagination and intuition said  “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift”.

6In public speaking, intuition will unfailing guide you to a greater speech and a more dynamic performance.  Use intuition to edit your speech and guide your choice to pick the holistic memory chunks or prompts to keep you on track at the lectern.  Use your intuition to measure the response of the audience so that you can refine or add to your words if needed.  At question time let it direct you diplomatically in your response to each of the questions

Encourage your intuitive ability  by choosing to become more aware of that gut feeling, that small voice in your head.  Challenge yourself to identify  who may be on the caller on phone when it rings or when standing at a bank of elevators ask which one will arrive first.  So at first you maybe wrong – but the more you practice the intuitive message becomes undeniably evident.

 Mary Atkins – Author of the definitive self-help guide to public speaking  Finding Your Voice – ten steps to successful public speaking.    Available in two editions  (same content but different covers) throughout the world and now on Kindle.

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Or you can purchase the book direct from me $A25 plus postage –  go to Contact Me on this website.

 

 

I Want What She Has – Charisma

UnknownCan you transform a person from a pedestrian, competent speaker into a compelling charismatic orator? The answer is yes you can.

For the past thirty years I have trained food professionals and media celebrities to find their voice, worked with keynote speakers to hone their presentations, adjudicated school debates, organised food and wine conferences with speaking and entertainment programs that left the audience wanting more and produced live cooking shows using the talent of Australia’s leading chefs and celebrities. As the author of Finding Your Voice – 10 Steps to Successful Public Speaking and an award winning speaker I can say, without false modesty – I know what it takes for a speaker to light up the auditorium.

Is it enough  to articulate well, present your facts logically and perform capably? With preparation and practice any speaker will become a competent speaker. An audience will appreciate these speakers’ efforts but will this adequate proficiency stay with them?

Don’t you want the audience to leave the building with your name on their lips and your message in their hearts?

This magic ingredient that lifts you from the mundane is your style, your brand, your charisma.

First lets look at how charisma (from the Greek meaning gift) is defined by others who have a vested interest in understanding this characteristic. Research from psychologists, talent scouts and even a high-powered charisma coach showed that there is no chutzpah fairy Godmother at our birth randomly waving her DNA wand – ‘here Norma Jean and Oprah a bucket-gene-full of compelling-appeal for you gals but none for you lot.’ They agreed that charisma can be a learned behaviour.

Common characteristics they identified were:

  • Emotional expressiveness – in other words allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
  • Empathy with others – socially sensitive
  • Exuding joy and warmth
  • Being present in the moment, being in the flow
  • Confidence
  • Stand firmly in your power
  • Mirroring others body language
  • Accepting your introversion or inadequacies
  • Voice – a measured tempo and lowering your intonation at the end of the sentence.

So the promise is –  if you practice standing chest out, shoulders back, arms wide you are seen as powerful. If you practice being in the moment, being socially aware and caring you will be flagging your empathy. If you accept your inadequacies and use visualisation techniques to boost your moral you will overcome and be centred and strong. If you risk telling others a secret or a weakness you will have emotionally connected with another. If you mirror others body movements then they will like and trust you. And if you train yourself to lower your voice, present in a measured way and put warmth in your voice from a smile on your dial you will have achieved the holy grail of panache gravitas – yes, yes, yes  – charisma.

To me the most important things in this worthy research is that when you have the courage to accept your shadow and light and  be vulnerable where all barriers are down, firm in your stance of bugger what the world is deciding about you – you are authentic. You have no need to fudge emotional and social expressiveness and sensitivity that becomes a taken. You will be in the present. You will naturally stand in your power and your voice takes on its own dimension of authority.

Consider comedian Billy Connolly who exudes high-octane charisma as he invites us into his fragile world. Even though his language would normally offend we don’t mind in fact see it as part of his charm as we rock and lock into his brand of humour. This man is no oil painting there is no glossy image, he looks as though he could do with a good hair and beard trim but we don’t care he gives us unfettered admission into his spirit. His transparent spirit of mischief and joy, making light of his foibles and life wounds connects  us at a deep level of consciousness.

Is it worth the risk of being true to yourself? You betcha. Just ask any speaker who has crossed the divide between platform and audience. ‘It is like holding the audience in the palm of your hand,’ said one speaker glorying in the joy of connection.

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*Want to know more?  Read my previous post  ‘The Path to Your Real Self’

* For Millennials  – substitute Russell Brand for Billy Connolly!

 

 

 

 

The Path To Your Real Self

Nature-WallpaperAt first the search for your Real Self can be imbued with an ambition to be more than you think you are. Not content with being a mere mortal but wanting to project yourself as a super person. I have a friend whose verbal tag line is ‘I don’t do ordinary – I do excellent’ which, would be seen in the world of commerce as commendable. But authentic self is about the simple act of being, living what you love, without the constraints of trying to achieve. The egotistical ways of wanting more, being more will need to slough away for you to live the authentic you.   Simply by being you become a beacon to others. I prefer to embrace ‘I DO DO ordinary, but I live it extraordinarily well.’

The intention of seeking your Real Self causes the ego to go into defence mode to keep you safe in your status quo; it only knows the well-worn path of your trampling belief system and its hunger to be recognised. And like any good defender of its perceived realm it will create strategies to slow you and stop you from reclaiming your authentic sovereignty of your Real Self.

Asking yourself ‘what do I love?’ is the key to finding your Real Self. For some this question will easy, they have always known from childhood where the direction of their true gifts lies. But for others whose truth has been in hiding it will need more persistence. Whether the initial answer comes easily or with a dedicated effort the repeated practise of asking ‘what do I love?’ intuitively rather than intellectually will get you there.

Why intuitively? Any intellectual deliberation will always be permeated with our default thinking. By setting our intention to receive intuitively we are tapping into our own reliable source of truth.

Before you dismiss receiving an ‘intuitive’ answer as something new age, bordering on flaky, consider the following. Leading scientific and philosophical thinkers of our time valued intuition above intellect. Evidence of this may be found in telling quotes from Albert Einstein (‘The only real valuable thing is intuition) Henri Poincare, Frank Capra, Jonas Salk, Immanuel Kant, Lao Tzu, Steve Jobs and many others. But Robert Graves, poet, novelist and critic put it most succinctly – Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought and leaps straight from the problem to the answer.

 We have all heard about the fireman whose insistent inner voice commanded him to get out of the burning house moments before the flaming beams crashed to the spot where he had been standing. A powerful  illustration of intuitive guidance that is available to us if only we will listen. We can tap into our intuition any time but most of us dismiss that patient quiet voice of guidance or action.

Purposeful intuition is accessed best in a quiet, still environment – meditation or a time spent communing with nature. I like to put myself in an imaginary circle. I see the circle as a sacred space. Silently voice your intention to serve yourself and to receive. At first the mind likes to throw up all kinds of dross – simply observe and acknowledge, as you would clouds moving slowly across a sky.

You will find Intuition delivers answers in different ways; you may get a symbol, a song, a feeling, a written word or a clearly spoken message in your head. Occasionally the answer might not come at that time but will come later in a synchronistic manner that defies ignoring. If the answer is obtuse look at what is obvious about this, what it might mean to you, if you’re unsure ask for more clarity. But the more you practice, answers are more easily read.

The question ‘what do I love?’ seems simple but we are multi dimensional beings who delight in many things from a hug from a loved one, a picture of a baby, coffee with a friend, a favourite book, good movie or a walk on the beach. Some characteristics of things that you are good at may give you direction but you will need to sift through these to elicit the most powerful connection. But frequently asking the question ‘what do I love?’ will plumb the depths and breadths of the real you.

finding-your-voice1There was nothing original in the title Finding Your Voice my self-help guide to public speaking book . Variations of ‘finding your voice,’ ‘having a voice’ or simply ‘a voice,’ are well known metaphors and cliché for living your truth. But my unwitting and decisive choice of naming it Finding Your Voice proved to be the open door and ongoing breadcrumb trail to who I am. At first the answer was generic – ‘a writer’ but as I kept asking the question I saw that it was leading me down paths that I had never considered. Giving me temerity to write a novel, speak up for what my heart and muse perceives as social injustice or  simply a desire to share a travel adventure. And wait,  I know there is more ….. I just need to keep asking ‘what do I love?’