Every year, around this time, I start to reflect. Chances are, you do too. Most people are starting to think about what they want for the coming year. They’re setting goals, getting clear on what they want to resolve, and embracing fresh starts and new ways of being.
Personally, I love taking time between Christmas and New Year, or maybe even a little time beyond it, like I’m doing now, to think about the progress I’ve made, the lessons I’ve learnt, and what I want to accomplish in the year ahead. As an introvert, I love the quiet and stillness that comes from disconnecting from work, social media and email. The time I spend with myself, my children, extended family, friends and dog. The time where I’m walking in the woods and hills where I live, smelling the fresh air, noticing the changing season, cooking and cozying up in front of a log fire with a blanket. This time is cherished. It’s time to recharge. To go inwards. To process my everyday living. To dream. To create. To be. It’s time like no other.
This year hasn’t been quite the same. Many of us have been in lockdown for most of it and isolated from friends and family. Struggling. Surviving. Some of us have even lost loved ones to it. It’s been tough.
I live in the northern hemisphere and there’s nothing like the short days and dark nights to remind me of the feminine energy that’s the stillness in our lives. It’s the central core that’s bursting with potential. It’s powerful because of its stillness, for that’s the precursor to creation. It’s where all things are born. Everything comes from the darkness. It’s the point of greatest intensity before the bursting forth of new life.
So, with this thought, still in this state, and the new year fresh, I want to share the progress I've made and some of the most significant lessons I've learnt during the past 12-months. I’m only giving you 6 lessons, but in truth they’re all really part of same lesson. I’m presenting them in this way to show you what’s possible, to show you how life is but a journey (with constant errors, cockups and learning lessons) and in hope that I may inspire you to build more strength, courage and joy in your life.
I have by no way worked it all out, but as Margaret Wheatley said,
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
Lesson 1: Gaining more freedom
My first lesson came almost as soon as the clock struck January 1st, 2020, when I felt a compulsion to clean, clear, let go of, and renovate my home. I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that devastating bushfires were burning in Australia with nearly three billion animals being killed or displaced. Scientists said it was one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history. With good friends there, and being an environmentalist, I put my emotions down to this. But it was far more.
I cried a lot. Ironically, I burnt a lot. I binned a lot. I took a lot of stuff to the tip and I gave a lot of stuff away. I mentally said goodbye to things I loved. I became so detached from things, but in the process, something wonderful happened. I strengthened and began to feel lighter, brighter and even more inspired to take action than my normal self. I had absolutely no idea what was going on, but I trusted my intuition even if it felt like madness.
Looking back, amidst a global pandemic, and being better educated, I can now make sense of it.
We live in a world of energy that nourishes and maintains all living things. When this energy flows uninterrupted, a balance and harmony within and around us forms, and we experience a sense of wellbeing.
The last decade has been hard. I’ve worked crazy stupid hours, consistently expanded my comfort zone, failed many times over, burdened my family, and endured intense stress and hardships. Despite getting through that time with many learning lessons, newfound friendships and successes, things still felt off. More recently I've had Reiki to relax, balance energy and hold a space for healing traumas, and it was this that led me to understand more about energy and that I’d amassed a tonne of negative, highly toxic energy in my home. So, clearing out the old in my home meant I created space for the new, including fresh, charged energy. Being clutter free, it ensured negative energy had no place to congregate, too.
But that wasn't all. It set me free. By not being attached to things, it reminded me that I’m loved, safe and that everything in life is impermanent and interconnected. The seasons change, happiness comes and goes, and the old must decay for new life to grow and expand. Better will always be on its way. Non-attachment brings the most profound sense of care, compassion and freedom you could ever imagine.
Lesson 2: Daring to dream
I started this year working with my soul sisters – three wise, coaches and successful businesswomen. I tweaked my business strategy and was encouraged to dream big and banish certain limiting beliefs that were holding me back. Bearing my soul, most boiled down to worth.
“Dare to dream,” she said. Then, smiling, she added, “Of course they’ll pay that. They’ll pay ten times more. You’ve done the work. Lean back and be available for the miracles."
"Lean back?" I questioned.
"Yes. You must lean back because if you lean forward to your dreams, you’ll only get stressed, will repel what you desire, and life or work will become an uphill struggle.”
At first, I resisted but then I trusted. It was Kat, after all. I opened my heart, made space, and believed my dream was within my grasp – something I’d not done since being an undergraduate in my twenties. I did a minimum amount of work and set about enjoying life. Then, the magic happened. Doors opened. There was no struggle. Everything flowed. Everything felt easy. The right opportunities and people showed up.
Now, I understand the lesson. Attracting what you want doesn't come from attachment to it. It comes from letting go, allowing and expanding. When you dare to dream and set an intention, you must let go of how it comes to fruition. Letting go of your attachment is letting go of control and needing to control comes from not trusting the process. Attachment creates resistance and friction. But by letting go, you allow everything to happen in a way that the ego can’t even dream of.
To free up your own desire is also to become the person who can have it. When things feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill, pay attention, for that signals it’s time to course correct your efforts. When things are meant to be, things flow with ease and grace. Nothing feels hard and that's when miracles, magic and serendipity happens.
But you have to do the work. You have to have the power duo, faith and courage. You have to jump and know you’ll get wings or that the net will appear. You have to expand your thinking and “dig your trenches for gold.” And this is hard because we’ve all mostly been conditioned to fear this kind of mental expansion as it feels unsafe and requires faith and courage which are often harder to access than ready-made how-to books, step-by-step checklists or programmes from gurus, experts or wannabes.
Here’s more on it, care of @SongofRuna.
“The journey is the destination. The horizon is but a canvas. It’s what we use to creatively vision and dream. It’s a sextant that locates and defines our present turning. As we move, so does the horizon shift with our hopes and dreams, refined by the things we’ve learnt about ourselves along the way. At first, we dream only what we see in others. Then, as we gain our own trust, we can let that imagination move through to things we’ve never seen, and perhaps only felt. This is then when we create a life that’s ours. This is the deepest fulfilment. The deepest satisfaction.
Make no mistake, the horizon, the dream, perhaps even the knowing is an essential part of this process. It’s not simply shadow reflected on the cave. For to touch that part of us, that can choose, can claim and know that it’s within our grasp is to free up our own desire and become the person who can have it.
Life is constantly forming and reforming itself according to our focused intent which can either be aligned or misaligned with harmonic flow. Many have abused this will, relying on force instead of power, but our will is just as important as divine will, because without it, life comes to pass as a mere shadow of what it could be.”
Here's a video I did on this lesson, earlier this year.
Lesson 3: Surrendering and going with the flow
All too often we're misaligned, unbalanced and off kilter whether this is to do with the nature of our work and what we do in terms of our careers, who we work for, or who we live with. Often pushing, forcing, controlling, taking, judging, not listening, being self-righteous, ego-driven, full of shame, inattentive, in denial, in our heads, trusting mere data.
At times, I’m guilty of this. I’d planned my year, was executing my strategy, things were flowing, and I was on track to receive my dream and expected return. However, there’s an old Yiddish adage I know only too well, “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” which translates as, “Man plans, God laughs.” Despite careful planning, the road of life is unpredictable.
This year we all saw this play out, and when COVID-19 struck, businesses all over the world virtually ground to a halt. My clients and prospective clients placed work on hold. We all held our breath, hoping to recover as quickly as possible. People were in shock, then scared as the crisis developed. This was new for us. Unlike anything we’d ever seen before. I had friends who had businesses that were about to be liquidated, some had jobs and were about to be made redundant. Others had contracts that stopped mid-flow and were unable to pay bills.
I too was in trouble. I’d placed all my eggs in one basket with my strategy, which should have paid off had there not been a global pandemic like COVID-19. I knew how many months I could survive without revenue. At one point fear got the better of me and I thought it was game over. I went to that point of closure. I looked at the risk I’d taken. I saw what the worst outcome looked and felt like. And I fell to my knees and surrendered. Totally. There was no drama. No noise. No meltdowns or hissy fits. Just quiet acceptance. I handed it over to be what it would be.
Then, after an hour or so of wallowing in the pain and self-pity, I did what I always do. I picked myself up off the ground and got to work. I’ve got top-notch survivor skills and remembering I actually had business turnaround experience, I knew what to do. Caring about my friends, I counselled them first, getting them back on track whilst my business was quiet. Then, I decided to serve more. I knew more people would be in turmoil, so I created a free COVID-19 Crisis Guide and Masterclass, which almost 400 people accessed in a few days. As a leader I know that you get what you give, but I wasn’t doing this because of some contrived knowing or strategy. I did it because it felt like instinct. For me, it was the right thing to do.
Then, I came to understand my next lesson: What the caterpillar calls the end of the world; the world calls the butterfly.
Whatever you believe to be true is constantly being reflected back to you. If you believe you’re unworthy, you’ll constantly see that reality being reflected back to you and see people treating you like that. If you believe people will only pay a certain price for your work, then that’s what you’ll get. If you believe it’s the end of your business and no one will commission any work, then that’s how it will be. However, when you change your beliefs and the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Wayne Dyer, an American self-help and spiritual author and motivational speaker was the master of this principle. He said,
“When you change the way you see the world, when your intentions are positive and powerful, when you search only for the good, then your life transforms into the amazing adventure it was designed to be.”
But that wasn’t the only lesson I learnt.
I now know that there is a natural flow to all of life. Despite what it may seem right now, everything happens in accordance with perfect, divine timing. Nature rarely hurries. She never blooms all year round, either. But every now and again, she’ll demand acceleration and with this pandemic we’re all being forced to listen to her. It’s nothing more than a deep cleanse. It’s an opportunity to change our unhealthy ways. To insist on the truth. To distance yourself from people, processes and tools that aren’t serving you. That are toxic. To heal, forgive, innovate, collaborate, unite and reset. Major cycles are ending and it's bringing much good – a shift – an evolutionary leap.
This is the time to trust. To see see what's ending from the caterpillar’s perspective or as higher intelligent beings and have faith and vision that life and the divine will always support us.
Lesson 4: To be or not to be
As a leader and influencer, people will form opinions of you. They'll think they know you because they’ve read about you, watched you, listened to you, learnt from you, and taken action because of you. And often this means they’ll act how you act.
Many times, as a leader – whether of many, or as one – we’ll ask ourselves who do we need to be, and how much more perfect can we be. Often labelled "superwoman" we trap ourselves, abuse ourselves and place conditions on ourselves ALL the time and it's mostly in trade of love and acceptance.
But this isn’t healthy and it’s not necessary. A better way is to simply be you. Full stop.
You’re perfect just as you are. When you’re uncensored. When you show up as your true self. This is when you’re authentic. This is when you’re the person who stops being afraid and trying to fit in. This is when you recognise you have unique strengths and weaknesses. This is when you tap into your power. Your life force. And when you can look at yourself in the mirror, unconditionally and say, "I love you just as you are."
This is when you see yourself as being enough and when you realise you don't have to stand in your power or reclaim it, because you ARE the frikkin power! 😉
As I was so wisely told by my coach,
“This type of awareness is the river that breaks its banks and finds its true course. And it is the wind beneath the sails of a great leader.”
This year I awakened me. I’m a creative, a designer, a writer, a speaker, a leader, a mother. Art breathes life into my soul. Introvert in essence. Shy by default. Music is my medicine. Happiest wearing a pair of dungarees and holding a paint brush in my hand, jigging to a tune. Or on a horse, or walking up a mountain, or in the woods, or on a beach, or in the ocean, or in the city in my heels! Solving problems. Empowering people and getting them to use their brains fully through design thinking. I’m the yin and the yang. Filled with feminine and masculine energy. In my head and in my body. Committed but only when free. Complex and contradictory by default.
What I learnt in 2020 was to resolve the question, “to be or not to be” and that the only way to make a successful and happy life was simply to “be to be.”
I realised that I no longer needed to find someone or something to believe in. I no longer needed to attach myself to something and be guided by how to live. I didn’t need a religion, a political ideology, a charismatic leader, an employer, a system of organised hierarchy, and so on. I just needed to be myself, trust my intuition and work WITH people. My identity and existence weren’t actually relevant. The only thing that mattered was accepting myself as a whole person and showing self-love. I didn’t need to believe in some external force. I only needed to accept that I had the wisdom within. I didn’t need to be pulled anymore. I was my own engine. My business worked for me, and it was my responsibility to stay on track, in momentum, on my terms. I didn’t need to feel judged. No one’s view mattered. And I only needed permission from myself.
So this year I took time. I didn’t hurry as much. I became more attuned. I did less rather than more. I leant back. I spent time walking, creating beauty within my home, cooking, listening to music, dining under the stars talking with my children. The eyes of my soul opened wider. With so much turmoil in the world and so many endings, I understood even more than normal that I was living a blessed life and that what blesses me, blesses everyone.
Lesson 5: Remembering to pray
Words have energy and they’re singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. Everyone uses them and this force can be used to change things, constructively – to help, harmonise and heal, or destructively – to hinder, hurt and harm. As change begins in language, words can incite movements, revolutions, bring changes to power and to self.
This year I came across the Ho’oponopono Prayer, a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. The word comes from ho‘o (to make) and pono (right) and can be translated to mean correct a mistake or make it right. The repetition of the word pono means doubly right or being right with both self and others.
The philosophy behind the prayer is simple. It’s that we’re each responsible for what shows up in our reality. We’re all connected and are one, despite us appearing separate. So, even when you’ve been wronged by someone else, you must become right with them to become right with yourself. And that’s why in practice the Ho’oponopono is a prayer, an act of intention, of unity and deep love, where space is held for reflection, repentance, forgiveness and gratitude.
When mistakes are corrected externally, they’re amended internally. When you purify your consciousness, you contribute to that of the collective consciousness. When you forgive others, you create a bridge of forgiveness to yourself. It helps you understand and heal the experiences in your life that you’ve attracted, participated in, or have been affected by.
The prayer received notoriety after a therapist and teacher, Ihaleakala Hew Len, was said to have cured an entire ward of mentally ill criminals in Hawaii without even talking or interacting with them. By analysing each patient’s records, Len repeated the ho’oponopono prayer and found that it not only changed his mood but the mental activity of the prisoners. As remarkable as it appears, by healing himself he healed the criminals.
The traditional version of Ho’oponopono Prayer consists of four lines and all you need to do is repeat them silently to yourself or out loud.
Please forgive me
I love you
Lesson 6: Exploring female energy and the lie that keeps us struggling
During this year, I’ve learnt more about power, the law, fear, those who’ll stand by you, those who aren’t genuine and will just use you, and the different ways to tackle those who seek to harm you. One of the lessons I learnt is to tap into my female energy and trust my intuition much more.
Most of us know about male and female energies (yin and yang) and that both exist co-dependently within us. Male energy (yang) is of the day and associated with light, action, and manifestation. It’s the part of us that’s constantly seeking to expand, to push and to do. In most cultures, particularly the West, this energy is glorified and it's a lie that keeps us unwell and struggling. Female energy (yin) is the polar opposite. It’s of the night and associated with darkness, inner potency, pre-manifestation, contemplation, and stillness.
Just like male energy, feminine energy is powerful. It’s the stillness in our lives. It has all of the intelligence of life and creation. Yet it's quiet and sits waiting for the right moment and environment. It doesn’t have to do anything. It simply is. There’s no outward action associated with this energy. It’s not passive or lazy. Rather it’s open and is purely about being. In its stillness it’s potent, and like a magnet it draws you in. The world rises to meet it. Not the other way round.
When I began to explore male and feminine energy this year, I found it fascinating, exciting and hard. I’ve worked in a male dominated industry for over twenty three years where these energies are vastly out of balance. However, the more I've learned, the more my current definition of myself has changed ,and a new way of being has unfolded. I've come to understand that I'm naturally a magnet for my dreams, but this only happens when I allow myself to have the stillness to connect with the way that feels easy and fun. When I get rid myself of my busyness, to-do lists, “shoulds,” feelings of lack and distractions that come from my mind’s limited perspective of who I am. And when I practice the law of indifference and become more like a calm ocean rather than a raging storm.
I now know not to worry, fear, agonise and obsess over my outcomes because I know that this will only delay and repel my good. Furthermore, that I’m not here to fix a broken world. I don’t need a superpower, to be a heroine, or find my purpose. All I’m here to do is to be, and to focus on my presence, as a perfect part of life, and one within it. This is when you're aligned, when magic happens and when you truly feel someone sitting in their power.
So, if you're still with me, thank you. Thank you for your trust, for being by my side, for cheering me on, for adding to my conversations, and for making the last 12-months pretty incredible. I feel fortunate to know you and to have you in my network. My life is so much more enriched because of you. Here's to you, to us, and to a safer, happier and more prosperous world in 2021!
PS. My next blog will be about the 6 Trends I Spotted When Reviewing 2020 and the Cybersecurity Skills Gap.