When obstacles keep dropping in your path

When I was 11 years old my class went on a school excursion to the movies. We travelled by train. On the way home my girlfriend said to me, “Why go back to school, all we’ll do is get back on the bus to come back to where we are at now”. Her suggestion made sense to me, so we hid in the toilets until everyone from our class had left the station. We expected to go back to school and no one would have missed us, just like we did when we avoided sport each week, but this time we weren’t so lucky. Our teacher was fuming and put us on detention during lunch hour for a week and we were told to stay in the classroom. What was supposed to be a punishment turned into one of the best weeks. I was with my best friend, we both loved drawing, so we took over the blackboard and had fun while we talked to our heart’s content.

There can be times in life when we feel as if obstacles just keep dropping in our path, but as I learnt when I was 11, what might at first appear to be something awful, can turn into one of the best things that ever happened to you.

I’ve lived through a lot of tough times, but this year I have felt as if I’ve faced one obstacle after another. For the past 20 plus years I’ve asked questions during tough times and I’ve discovered that the guidance and answers I receive are dependent upon the type of questions I ask. I’ve never been a ‘why me?’ person. To me it’s a total pointless question, but I must admit for a very short while when I had compassion fatigue and I started feeling confused I did think ‘why am I back here again?’  And for a few weeks I felt irritated by everyone and everything. So, I started asking, ‘What am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ Another question that didn’t give me the answer I needed. Answers come quickly so if you don’t get an answer to your question within a week change the question.

I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve faced obstacles I have wished I could just hear a voice from the sky saying, ‘Anne this is what you should do…’, but as you know that doesn’t happen. But our personality can guide us to the right questions as well.

Although I am more inclined towards optimism than pessimism, I have trained myself to be an optimist by what I continually feed into my mind. So whenever I get discouraged I don’t stay down for long because I get sick of myself, so I changed my question to, ‘What’s the best way for me to serve for the remainder of my life?’ because I know my purpose is to serve others. For me that was the perfect question. The words that kept popping into my mind were ‘serene’ and ‘peaceful’, and I knew this was who I wanted to be. That led me to ask, ‘How can I work in a way that supports me to be serene and peaceful?’ Another question that ruled out a lot of options I was considering. By asking this question, I realised that I wanted to continue doing what I’ve done for the last 20 years and that is train life coaches, I love coaching, I love empowering people. I just needed to change things around a little. I decided to change my target market and work with smaller groups of people who are committed to doing the work on themselves. I saw the opportunity for me to let go of control by having others teach the majority of my course. I am aware that I am not as good as I once was. I could restructure assessments, so I didn’t have to mark assignments and we could assess purely on coaching ability, making it easier for everyone. In fact I realised that everything that irritated me was fixable.

The questions you ask depend upon the problem and your personality, they need to be ones that take you forward, that guide you an answer that improves the quality and flow of of your life. At times I’ve asked, ‘How can I be happy and calm where I am right now?’ Because sometimes we need to stop resisting what is in order to recognise the gift that’s in our current situation. When I’ve felt stuck being grateful and focusing on performing acts of kindness made me feel good and so I could ask the next question, that would give me the guidance I was looking for.

When we only want an answer that is going to give us what we want, in the way that we want it, we set ourselves up to suffer. When we relax, flow with life and what is, do simple things that make us feel good, and have a daily routine that supports us, life gets so much easier.

Life is always conspiring to support you

Did you get that? It’s not out to get you, punish you, or remind you you’re not good enough. Life is always on our side. Your current circumstances might be giving you an opportunity to master aspects of yourself that are preventing you from creating the life you long for. You may be being redirected down a different path that will help you attain what you want, in a better way for you. It may be bringing people into your life that you didn’t know how to meet. I once had a job I hated and I spent 6 months applying for other jobs with no success, until one day I realised that I had made more friends in that job than I had anywhere else. Once I started valuing the friendships instead of focusing on what annoyed me that job became quite enjoyable. And those friendships lasted long after the job ended.

Life always supports us. By accepting what is, looking for a way to make the best of it and focusing on being the best you, you can be rather than finding a way to control what is, life has a way of taking you to exactly where you need to be.




Joy is What Comes After a Transition

Joy is What Comes After a Transition

Every 20 years or so I go through a fairly major period of transition which creates turmoil as long as I resist what is. When I am open and willing something new and wonderful opens up.

My first major transition occurred in my thirties and that was scary as it resulted in a total life change. When I was in my late forties I felt directionless and in total despair that this was all my life was ever going to be, but as I searched for a better way to live, a whole new career and lifestyle opened up to me.

Most of the time I’m very  happy with my life, but there are occasions when doubt creeps in, particularly as I get older. At these times it is so very easy to slip back into our stories. Our story is what we tell others, and ourselves, about why our life is the way it is. It is the conversation that we repeatedly have with a friend about something or someone who irritates us. It is the problem that keeps recurring. Our stories are such a familiar part of us that most of the time we cannot see how our stories are running our lives.

Our stories can be about feelings, relationships, health, work, money and lifestyle. It often becomes the conversation we engage in when we feel stressed or challenged.

Our stories include choices and decisions we have made about what we can have, what we are capable of and how supported or loved we feel. And if we are not careful our stories can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Stress is just another name for fear

Until we live mindfully our stories can easily run our lives. The more mindful we are the easier it becomes to recognise when we are feeling stressed, or when we are indulging in self-defeating patterns of behaviour. Stress is the wake up call we often need to change what we are doing. The easiest thing we can do is to stop talking about our problems and to stop resisting what is.

My go to strategy when my life isn’t flowing is to pause and tune into my emotions. If I find I am feeling angry, frustrated or fearful I forgive myself and the people whose behaviour is bugging me. I focus on appreciation and gratitude. Within hours life starts flowing again.

While most people dislike change life transitions always present us with wonderful opportunities. Practice sitting with your emotions. Accept that the quickest way to change your life is to accept what you don’t like. Stop worrying about what others think. Use this time to focus on joy. Ask yourself what a joyful life looks like? What a joyful day looks like? And start working towards it.

Joy is the gift we give ourselves.



Life Takes You to Where it Wants You to Go

Many of us is resist what is. We insist that life goes according to our plan and when it doesn’t, we often use our will to try and make it happen. That’s when life goes out of balance. We often think of balance as time, but living a balanced life is much more than that. It’s about meeting all of our needs, not just the the most obvious ones that are unmet.

My late twenties was a challenging time. I had two young children and lived on the poverty line. My friends were either married with children, or single and looking for love. I didn’t seemed to fit in anywhere. I was lonely, bored and poor. I thought that if I had more money a lot of my problems would go away so my focus was always on how I could make more money, what study could I do to make more money, something external to change my situation.

One day I read an article about a charity for single mothers who were helping each other. I went along to one of their meetings and it was a life changing event that taught me that what we are seeking is not always what we need.

I got involved with the charity, eventually becoming a committee member and I did a lot of fund-raising and discovered that this was something that I was good at. I established a social life with women in the same situation as I was, and some of those friendships lasted for years. I nearly freaked out when I discovered that one of our meetings was being filmed for a TV segment, and another time I was asked to do a radio interview and some talks. That was my first brush with the media which was incredibly scary at the time, but it stood me in good stead for the media work I was to do.

One of the worst times in my life turned into one of the best when I allowed life to guide me in the direction it knew would make me happiest. That time supported me to develop the skills to do the work I was born to do.

Sometimes we get stuck in our logical minds when we try to work out how to achieve our goals but if we do our bit, be responsible, look by all means, but don’t get caught up in ‘the how’, life will take us to where we want to be.

I gained so much from that time in my life. I filled my need for companionship and realised that I needed to go back to work part-time so I could interact with others. My confidence grew. I was stimulated by the challenge of raising money and discovered I was more creative than I realised. I discovered that I feel happiest when I give. And I overcame my greatest fear of speaking in front of others which meant I felt good about myself.

If I had succeeded in my goal to make more money I may have attained that goal but I wouldn’t have learnt about all of those other things, and not surprisingly because I felt happy opportunities started flowing into my life again. My part-time job turned into my first real business venture (apart from typing) as the company I worked for went into liquidation and I took it over.

Here are some simple tips to help you through the tough times:

  • When life is not flowing check to be sure that you are focusing on what you want, not how to get what you want.
  • Look for where your life may be out of balance. Are you focusing on one goal and ignoring your other needs? Look for ways to be happy where you are right now.
  • Look for ways to can make someone else happy.
  • Stay open to opportunities.
  • Trust.

I have always found it helpful to read about successful people like Oprah. You will find that many of them got to where they are without a plan, they took responsibility, did what they could and followed where life took them.

Make Living in a State Of Flow Your New Normal

Business has been flowing nicely lately and because I want to live in a state of flow I have been affirming, “This is my new normal”. One thing I know for sure is that even when life isn’t flowing life always supports me, particularly when it doesn’t appear that way.

In my life coaching classes we use a style of questioning that helps people get to the root cause of what is holding them back, then together with the client we devise strategies, often based on values, to assist them to create a new normal. Both techniques are equally important because we can’t stay in a state of flow while we are carrying around with us hurt feelings, anger or memories that take us away from the person we want to be, or the life we want to create.

For most of my life I lived with a lot of self doubt because I worried about what other people thought. Instead of procrastinating I took the rebel’s path, and forged ahead, acting as if I didn’t care what anyone thought but I still did. I used force to achieve a lot of goals and while it can work, it is a very exhausting, stressful way to live. I often asked myself why I couldn’t take an easier path, why I couldn’t settle for less rather than always pushing myself to my limits and the reason I couldn’t do that was because my needs provided me with the motivation to move through my fears. The greatest need that’s driven my entire life is my need for freedom and I now know that freedom for me is about being myself, not pretending, not holding back, not settling for less than, it’s about whole hearted commitment to being the person I know I was born to be.

I used to say face your fears but even though I have done that many times, the fear remained. I now suggest that people move through their fears. We do this by feeling all of our emotions then gently and consistently acting like the person we want to be.

During one period in my life, when I needed to move through a lot of fear, I used two affirmations. One was ‘I trust’, and the other was, ‘What I think of me is more important than what anyone else thinks of me’. During that period I felt as if I was constantly criticised, and every time it would start up I would say to myself over and over again, ‘What I think of me is more important than what anyone else thinks of me’. Those two affirmations, followed by acting as if I trusted supported me to move forward. I see trust as being like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the easier it becomes to know when to trust.

Of course whenever you trust you need to combine it with discernment because not everyone is trustworthy. So, rather than just being foolhardy, establish the habit of pausing, checking in with your intuition if this is a person you should trust, or if you this is the right decision for you to make.

To create a new normal you need to move through any emotions that regularly challenges you. You can do this by feeling the emotion as it occurs without talking about it or getting caught up in the story around it. If you have buried your emotions then maybe journaling will help them come to the surface. Then look at what opportunity life is presenting you with. Do you need to exercise self care more? Could you let go of judging others or yourself? Is there an opportunity to be kinder or more caring? Or, are you resisting the direction life is taking you in, in which case you need to trust.

When you make acceptance of what is your automatic response, while looking for the opportunity to grow, life becomes so much easier and it flows.


Life Transitions

Transitions occur when we go through a major change, or move from one life stage to the next. Up until last year my weekends were always full either with my girls, seeing friends, or visiting my Dad. Now my girls have their own lives with one living overseas, my friends are getting older and don’t travel as much. My Dad is no longer with us.

Fully aware that I am going through a transition period I decided I needed a project and I chose to plan a renovation for one side of my backyard. Although this garden gets the best sun of my whole yard, and it’s a reasonable size, it is a mess, it’s a place I rarely go to as it’s where I leave the bins and anything I don’t want, there is nothing attractive about it.

Reflecting on what makes me happy I decided to turn this area into an oasis, a place where I can sit in a comfy chair and read, one of my favourite things to do and a place to do my mosaics. I decided to paint my fences and use them to display some of my projects. What started as a way to fill a void has turned into a project I am passionate about and one that might take a couple of years, I have a lot of mosaic art I want to create.

In years gone by, when there was a void in my life, I would most likely have felt despondent for a while, or I would have sought to fill that void with people. Understanding myself and what makes me happy has enabled me to turn what could have been a challenging time into something exciting.

Now while I would like more people, who live in my area to socialise with, I am content to do something I love by myself because I know that if I continue to be the person I aspire to be, then whatever I need will come into my life.

Transitions are a normal part of the fabric of life. They are a time to develop new skills, move through old fears and reassess who we want to be and what we went to do with our lives. They are also opportunities to create what we have always wanted. Just because we get older doesn’t mean there isn’t something to do with our lives, as long as we are breathing we have a purpose.

I want to leave behind me a legacy of love, wisdom and fun and I am so grateful for my business which allows me to do this. I also know that in giving as much as I do I need to refill my own tank, so choosing to fill my leisure time with activities and people who make me happy is vital.

Life transitions occur for all of us and the way in which we move from one stage in life to the next is determined by the way we live on a daily basis. One of the most important choices we can make is to be happy every day. Life won’t always go to plan and sometimes we are challenged, but when we make the choice to be happy regardless of what is happening in life, we develop skills that enable us to navigate the rough patches  with ease and grace.


You Can’t Make it Happen

During the eighties and nineties the concept of designing a life was very popular and I was a great supporter of it. I imagine that may have been where the phrase ‘Make it happen’ began. As time passed and my life didn’t match the ideal life that I had designed for myself, I became increasingly aware that this concept is flawed, and our attempts to make it happen can sometimes make life harder than it needs to be.

A question I am sometimes asked is, “How can we set goals and be responsible, yet remain detached from the outcome?”

So let’s go back to the concept of designing a life. When we set a goal we usually have an expectation of how we will feel when we achieve that goal. We think that when someone loves me I will feel happy, or when I have financial security I’ll feel happy, and while it’s nice to have those things they don’t guarantee happiness.

The life I designed for myself was to be married, have four children and be the woman behind the man, who would own a successful business. I achieved some of my goals but I didn’t get married, I had three children, but as one died at a young age, the reality is I have two children. I became successful in my own right, which is way more fulfilling than my original plan and I became a best selling author. The reality of my life turned out different to what I imagined but I am a better person for the experiences I’ve gone through, and I now know that my original vision would not have fulfilled me.

What I discovered is that we have no control over goals that include other people, so while we can pray, visualise and support others to achieve their goals we cannot manipulate them to do what we want. We cannot force someone to love us, or even when they do, we cannot force them to live the life we believe is right for them, as the life they are living may be perfect for them to achieve their life purpose.

I believe we always take responsibility and do what we can to create the life that is important to us. That means that in some instances we prepare, gain the skills, save, do whatever is necessary. Then we get on with life and trust.

I liken detachment to gardening. When we plant a seedling it is small. We put it in soil that is full of nutrients and in a position that suits the need of the plant. We feed it, water it, maybe even talk to it, that’s the taking responsibility part. When we are not tending the plant we get on with our life and trust that the plant will grow. It’s the same with our dreams, we do what we need to do to turn them into reality, if they die as some seedlings do, we know there is something better for us. We trust that life is guiding us down a pathway that is more suited to us.

Forget trying to make it happen, set up the right conditions, do what you can then allow life to guide you to the life that will make you happiest. The Universe knows what you need, trust it!