There comes a moment in life when we make a choice that changes us for ever. A ‘touch of grace’ slips or storms in…I have experienced a number of these and yesterday that hand of grace was around me.
What is grace? To me it is a kind of spiritual intelligence, a form of energy that comes from a higher source. I believe we are guided by that powerful force and I have found when I chose to align myself with that energy an amazing path unfolds before me. This energy I call a touch of grace…it is recognition that all is connected and sacred.
Sometimes they are happy things, sometimes out-of-the-blue things and sometimes incredibly sad things that bring me to that realisation. I get many little reminders along the way…maybe you have also!
One such event happened yesterday. I attended a funeral service for a beautiful young lady, Rachael, 28 years of age. She was killed following a car accident leaving behind her a dazed, yet wonderful young husband. To see him in such pain shook my heart. To have your loved one snatched just two years after marriage would cause incredible pain and the why, why, why’s would be flowing. This couple were two of the most beautiful people it has been my privilege to meet. No, I did not know them well, my acquaintance with was as a result of networking.
Where is the grace you ask? It was Rachael and Joel’s grace and inner beauty that I experienced when I met them, their friendliness, openness; I just knew they were special. The touch of grace flowed throughout the morning starting with the funeral director who I know well - yes, from being a client many times over…I had to think about that...was I the client or was the deceased the client…on a number of occasions over the past 10 years.
The celebrant spoke with such grace and elegance expressing the family’s thoughts. She used her words and beautiful energy to convey pure feelings that permeated the room. We come together at a time like this and for me it brings up my ‘stuff’. I could feel the emotions of the girls who were with me rising…here is where a touch of grace and humanness touches us and we realise the power, depth and magnificence of friendships.
I had a feeling of disconnection on leaving, rushing off to an appointment. As I moved through the next few hours, seemingly like I was on remote control… I stopped for a cuppa and reflected on the morning and allowed that feeling of graciousness to rise and flow through me. My thoughts reminded me that our lives are precious, what we worry about most times never happens (OMG did I just say that, coming from the ‘worry wart master’) and decided to open up to the flow of grace and express gratitude for the wonders in my life.
That simple decision cleared my head, peace seeped into me and I was able to concentrate…then the touch of grace appeared as if to say Ok she is open and ready! I had several phone calls, out of the blue ones that lifted my spirits; I cannot put into words the exquisite and wonderful power of friendships.
Sharing our stories is a powerful way to connect, feel that ‘touch of grace’ and reach out. The catalyst for me was the death of my beautiful husband ten years ago after 31 years of marriage. How well I recognised that vacant dazed look on Joel, it was like looking in a mirror.
That ‘touch of grace’ has been working overtime throughout my life, how often I could not see it. When it was time…I was able to act – I did not want that pain anymore.
To conclude I have a précis of a presentation I delivered to SWAP, perhaps you will see a touch of grace in there…
When it’s Time
The short story is I live in Nambour. I’m a mother, grandmother and great grandmother, a confidence and presentation skills coach, a speaker, and a professional MC for weddings and conferences. Yes! .... I think that’s who I am today. But it’s not the story I used to tell.
Today I wonder who I was back then, and back then is not that long ago. In my case it’s just ten years. Yours may be longer or shorter, but at some stage in our lives, we come to a point where we wonder about how we used to think and act and what might have made us do that. It’s called awareness by the gurus and it is said to be the first step on the rocky road to enlightenment and in a little while you will see what I mean.
I’m not sure if it is something that comes with age or if it might be as some researchers say, that changes in thinking occur when a roadblock in one’s life causes the brain to have a kind of accident in thinking. Then new neural pathways have to be forged because the brain cannot access old thinking patterns.
My particular roadblock happened ten years ago when Les, my husband, of thirty one years passed away and life as I had known it came to an end. That is not when I started thinking about what I had been thinking about or questioning my previous life that is when my thinking went on its own journey. It was as if time got muddled up and I was catapulted back to a time before Les, my husband, before family, before the halcyon days of being the wife of an industrial chemist and the corporate world of the sugar industry in its hey day. For nearly seven years I was caught up in an old story from my childhood and teenage years, something I had safely buried as my past, or so I thought.
It had its purpose I am sure; it drove me to do more things of a different nature than I had ever done over the last thirty years. But it certainly led me on a not so merry chase. It became the focus of my life, I even wrote a book about it, ‘Beyond Abuse’ it is still available today. I made it my purpose, gave speeches about it, cried buckets of tears over it, got therapy about it and did courses around it and even started a business based on it.
And then one day not so long ago, I heard myself telling the story yet again, and I said you know what “I just don’t want that anymore!” And just like that, that part of my life was over, well to be fair it took a few months to really let go.
But on that day I started to think about how strange it was that I would have thought and acted in such a way for so long and that I was now a stranger to the old story and the business I had built around that story. The interesting thing is that I was not only a stranger to that story I was also a stranger to the person I had been as a wife and mother. Not that I had forgotten the good times or wished things had not happened. I guess it was because I no longer craved what I had lost.
Like the guru said, awareness is the first step on the rocky road to enlightenment, my new thinking that caused me to say “I just don’t want that anymore!” was the first step to the changes that came in quick succession.
Paid work that had sustained me fell away, investments lost money where they had made money, grant applications and programs I had built around the old story fell over and I have to admit I was a bit concerned.
But angels came into my life too, angels who saw me as a different person to the one I had been parading as, and they have helped me to emerge as the colourful, and they say elegant person, who could draw on the skills and competencies that were developed during my years of marriage to form a new life and business.
Looking back now I can see that there were many times in my life when something I was doing came to its use-by date or some roadblock caused me to say with enough force for me to do a 180 degree turn and put it aside saying “I just don’t want that anymore!”
Some of these were and still are in their way very dear to me.
- For 5 years I served on the local Ambulance Committee then one day “I just don’t want that anymore!”
- For 5 years I served on the Sunshine Coast Children’s Therapy Board - same again.
- For 30 years I was a registered nurse, in fact for a good part of my married life I worked as a nurse, my husband said it was a good thing that I put my energy into something else otherwise the family, his four and our one, would have been worn out following my unrealistic hectic routines. Les used to say he did the nursing profession a favour by marrying me and taking me out of the system. But you guessed it one day “I just don’t want that anymore!”
One of the biggest ones was my patchwork and quilting, oh if you could have seen the cupboards, boxes and shelves full of fabric, cottons, buttons, beads and patterns and the carefully stored quilts you would know what a big part of my life patchwork, quilting and craft was. But “I just don’t want that anymore!”
Some of my angels suggested that now that I was in a new space I might like to revisit some of those old passions and see what lessons they had that would be useful now. And angels that they are, they were right, so much of my competence and confidence can be traced to those things that I gave my energy and commitment too.
Although I learned so much from the work on the various committees and office bearing positions, there is little doubt in my mind that one of the greatest sources of lessons were my patchwork and quilting days.
You might have seen quilts and not realised the breadth and depth of love that goes into every one of them. There are friendship quilts where a team work to design and make a quilt that one person will own, every lesson on team work can be gleaned from this. There are memorial quilts which are made for others where compassion, love and mercy are stitched. Even Christmas quilts and every other type of quilt you can imagine. And then there is the sheer level of commitment required to finish a quilt. Let me show you how I learned patience, competence, confidence, love, determination, joy, satisfaction, connection and sharing and so many of life’s important lessons. And don’t forget the colour!
The quilt lessons -
Now I can see the lessons as if they are floating off the quilt:
On one quilt I see the structured pattern with free hand around it. What appears to be curves is in fact squares and triangles amazingly pieced. The free hand border while different, compliments the inner quilt. I can see here that leadership and business management are like that. I can see that training and speaking are like that, we weave a clever pattern that with confidence and elegance, when carefully executed, paints a picture greater than the sum of the parts.
The Christmas one, a log cabin design shows one of the most basic of patchwork patterns. Small squares and strips cleverly placed produce a Christmas tree. Something that started with simply a pile of fabric, scissors and a sewing machine!!!
Lastly is the garden elf with a hand painted face. A group of us gathered to make this special elf. What do I remember most about that day – saying ‘there will only ever be one of these!' The interesting thing was when we lined them all up at the end of the day – the facial characteristics resembled the maker. How often in life and business do we show a different face – show a mask of what we think we ought to be – its OK to be yourself, more Ok it is imperative that you be true to yourself. Maybe there is some personal stuff you can let go of. Isn’t that a novel idea!
Regardless of those great experiences there came a time when I said “I just don’t want that anymore!” Not in the old way, but I am ready to appreciate them in this new way.
And here’s the other big one, my book and old business based around abused women. So many incredible lessons. Courses I never would have taken, NLP training and Life Coaching with Melissa Scott, Wildly Wealthy Women and Wealth Dynamics. But this is not my life now “I just don’t want that anymore!”
While I have been talking, you have probably been distracted by your own thoughts about things that no longer serve you. That you just don’t want that anymore! It is the end of the year and time for you to review.
So let your mind think about those things without distractions. Close your eyes for a little bit, just relax, feel the chair under you, let your hands go floppy in your lap, let your feet drop comfortably, let any sounds float away and allow your mind to think about those things that you might not want anymore. Just let them arise.
When you open your eyes, do not talk, take one of the sheets on the table and a pen and fill in the “I just don’t want that anymore!” Come from the heart, allow your thoughts to flow, your mind has probably given you very clear words, pictures or feelings.
When I decided to give this presentation I realised that it was as much for me as for any of my audience. Thank you for being such wonderful participants on this ongoing journey of discovery.
Were my senses engaged? They most certainly were - how I embrace that ‘touch of grace’ today…I encourage you to stop a moment and ponder…where has there been a ‘touch of grace’ in your life? Love to hear your comments.