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Honoring the Call of Closure

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Honoring the Call of Closure

A pilgrimage to the heart of the lonely gap that exists between
NO LONGER … and … NOT YET.

If you find yourself reading this post, then you probably already know me and my work and want to know what I have been up to, or someone has suggested you come and read it. Don’t curse them when you see the length – they have their reason and must love you enough to give you this nudge along your path. If you want the shortened Haiku (5-7-5) version so you can get the gist and move on with your day – here goes:

Pause and honor life

Connect to the sacred pulse

Embrace threads of love

This blog is a bit (well um, a lot) longer than normal, so grab a cuppa’ or a tall glass of something delicious to drink, and come walk with me for a wee while.

We are off to a remote island…on a pilgrimage. Not an island holiday – but a deep immersion to challenge life head-on, and to be curious about what I might find there. Scary as hell, but exciting as heck.

I would like to mention right up front that this feels like a deeply personal sharing. I feel called to document and attempt to do justice to the mammoth journey I have recently immersed in. While I tackle everything I embark on in life with mindful awareness, (along with a massive dose of salt and humor), this one has been exceptionally profound. Trust your gut whether to read on or not…

I guess it’s the layered convergence of a few things: the location I journeyed to for my pilgrimage, what I came to do and why, and the timing of it. I’m not simply referring to July 2020, stuck with the rest of the world before, during and after the ‘easing up” of restrictions, but more so from a personal juncture in my life and all the threads that were weaving together at this time. Or more accurately the threads that were “un-raveling and un-weaving simultaneously” at 52 years old.

 

There are two forms of courage in this world. One that demands we jump into action with our armor on. The other demands that we strip ourselves bare-naked and surrender. Bravery is a curious thing. Jeff Brown

#The Quiet Beckons

Are you perhaps there right now and also needing to stop a while to sit with the un-weavings in your life?

These moments in time are what many traditions call ‘initiations’. A time to walk through the doorway of personal transformation. A new chapter. To re-evaluate. Reset. To go into the cave no matter what you find there. Many loosely refer to this a time of retreat (but some folk think that a retreat is simply a time of rest in a lovely setting – that is a holiday). When these particular times beckon us, we have to go directly INTO the fire in order to be transformed. There is no walking around it. No pussyfooting or side-stepping. Perhaps for a while, you can ignore or pause it. But not indefinitely, as the rumble and rattle of the call will inch deeper and deeper into your cells, relentlessly. If repeatedly put off, then life will figure a way to throw you down in your own tracks in order to get your attention. It could be in the way of illness, death, divorce, financial ruin, being retrenched, or global scale disasters – hello virus. A lot of the time it just feels overwhelmingly scary, inappropriately timed and miraculously something else will just win the battle for priority. For now!

Lack of money, time-poor, kids’ demands, partner’s needs, work obligations and our inner voice protesting that we cannot possibly indulge in and follow the call to ”take time out”. I have often looked on enviously at those who live more within the tradition of wise cultures, where ceremony and ritual is embedded into their lives and they follow the rhythm of nature, seasons and sun, moon cycles every day. I have tried, somewhat unsuccessfully I might add, to create that for myself over the years. To carve out time to immerse in things that matter to me. To live closer to the rhythm of life. To create little “altar” of things that matter to me when I travel. To wake up with the sun in my room and sleep early. But I have also spent five years of summers in a row, never getting the quieter rest time of winter, which can play havoc with circadian cycles. Sometimes I try and follow daily rhythm because it’s the only thing I know how to do. At other times I have been led into that journey of remembering by someone else on my path – be it partner, friend or teacher.

Altar#My Travelling Altar

I know this for sure, we are all here to evolve, expand, learn and transform. The flip side means that it also requires the polar opposite to close out, let go, contract and move on. We need both these sides of the spectrum to fully embrace and live our highest life.

I heeded the call.

I embarked on a solo pilgrimage to a minute, remote island called Iona. It’s really a wee rock at just 1.5 miles by 3 miles where only residents are allowed cars. You can’t even walk all the circumference of the island, as it is so wild, craggy and difficult in places. With only 120 or so permanent residents who brave life all year round, this swells massively to about 175 000 pilgrims and visitors annually (not in Covid times of course). Some visit for just a few hours between ferry crossings from Mull, just time enough to walk the ancient path from pier to the Abbey that dominates the landscape – to taste the wild isle and stand awestruck in front of the carved Celtic crosses or visit King’s graves. Perhaps be lucky enough to grab the famous cream tea at the Argyll Hotel, or stare at the Sound of Iona scanning for dolphins and seals from the St Columba’s garden tables, munching an organic salad and local “hogget” burger. Nowadays you can even rent a lovely bike. Ha-ha – be warned – they have no gears and you have to backpedal to break, but you get the hang of it pretty fast and it’s a total delight to wheel past the shore and explore the island.

 

But for these day-trippers it’s more of a fleeting visit to tick off the bucket list. It may plant the seed to promise to return … one day. But it in no ways allows you to soak up the healing energy here. One of my favorite times of day is when the last ferry has backed off the pier and you can feel the island exhale and settle into its silent womb again. Everyone you see from then on has the privilege of staying put for the night.

#Carved Crosses Loom in the LandscapeCarved crosses loom

 

A warm envelope of quiet love and immense possibility descends.
Such is the lure of this sacred isle. A wee isle with monumental power. Within the wild elementals of this ancient Celtic land with deep Christian roots, it is said that the “veil between the two worlds is very thin”. Meaning you always feel more closely connected to the spiritual world here. It feels more accessible no matter how disconnected you are when you arrive. If you have never heard of Iona, I lovingly laugh and mean no disrespect when I say it’s the “ass-end of nowhere”, whereas in actual fact it feels like the center of the universe to those of us who venture here. You usually feel “called” to visit to be honest, as you don’t just happen upon this island one day. Getting here is somewhat of a mammoth pilgrimage all in itself. Part of the shedding process of the external skin.

 

When the ancient mystery of Iona has beckoned, the journey starts the moment you make the decision to answer that call. The energy starts weaving from that point on. But when you first set physical eyes upon it from the pier at Fionnphort on the Ross of Mull – it’s easy to feel a bit let down and disappointed. SO SMALL? That’s it? This is what I traveled all this way for? Mmm – don’t be so easily fooled by appearances.

 

When you have rested your weary head under these stars, it’s impossible to leave as the
same person that arrived. Ever!

 

So I have penned this blog for heartfelt personal reasons, as a way to capture some essence of this recent experience for myself. Firstly to inform myself by writing it down, which creates another layer of processing it all and living it again. And secondly, if by reading it, you too happen to be inspired to embark on a similar kind of pilgrimage or retreat process one day, or this becomes your beckoning call to Iona– then how lovely will that be for both of us?

 

To put my experience bluntly – I feel like a snake that has shed a few skins.

 

I think I look the same, sound the same, walk the same, laugh the same and eat and drink just as much as ever, but I FEEL different. The old adage of “pull yourself towards yourself lass” rings in my ears and my heart. That was the point after all. I have not been on some massive diet, makeover or had a new photoshoot. Quite the opposite to be honest as it’s been a deep-dive journey into the cave of CLOSURE. Wild, windswept hair, zero make-up most days, crying, laughing, dancing, singing to recently shawn sheep and mostly sitting, staring at the splendid views and …being. Finding a spot to plonk down and do what I came to do. The inner work. Usually clad with about 5 layers of clothes on for all sorts of rapidly changing weather. A vest, gym top, jacket, gilet-puffer and a supposedly waterproof outer later. (Yes mum, it isn’t quite doing its job and I’m often a cold, wet mess). The next minute I’ll be stripped down to my vest only, and then it’s all piled back on again in a flash. Plenty of workouts in that process, at least ten times day!

 

I had one directive – do the inner work in rain, gales or shine. A three-week gap. I needed to get away with myself, to be by myself, to fall in love with myself again. There was a much deeper purpose to this specific retreat.

I had found myself in the challenging place of NO LONGER …but…NOT YET!

 

My watchful #AngelOwl 

What do you say when someone asks you what you “do”, and you no longer love most of what once brought you deep joy, satisfaction and energy? When you feel that even as the words come out your mouth it’s confusing because there are so many facets to what you do? I was watching and witnessing words come out my mouth that simply didn’t resonate with me anymore. Over the years, my business has at different times been very niched, then morphed and generalized, only to be re-niched and rebranded again, then generalized ad Infinitum. I understand that the natural expansion and contraction of business emulates nature. And here I was at the point of needing to contract once again.

 

 

 

Consciously contract.
The bigger the expansion, the bigger the contraction, right?

I was starting to feel increasingly confused by myself; too fragmented, disjointed and discombobulated. Honestly, a bit bored of my work, myself and a little disinterested in life. It’s a real killer for me to confess that. I was all over the place both literally and figuratively and just way too busy. But busy with what exactly? There were immense pockets of joy and delight too – don’t get me wrong. It was just that whenever I “hovered” over my life and looked in from the outside, I knew that it was NOT what I wanted to be feeling, doing or living into anymore. Something was shifting but I hadn’t caught up with myself yet.

 

I truly believe that just because you ONCE loved doing something, loved your work/career/business, loved a home, or your country, loved another person, etc., that it doesn’t mean you still do love it. Or even if you do still love it now, it doesn’t automatically mean that you always will feel the same way in the future. Yet we want to hold onto that idea for some reason.

Never letting go.

Fear of moving on.

Hold on tight now.

 

That realization that you once DID love it in past tense doesn’t make it wrong that you no longer do love it. Or that it was a waste of time or a bad decision.
What if it simply means you no longer love what you once did? Just because you are brilliant at something doesn’t mean you still love to do it. What if that “thing” has just run its course, had its time, done its job and now it’s an opportunity to move on. Can it hold the space of both – you used to love it and simply no longer do. Except it never feels that simple as we have to dismantle it all somehow. Piece by piece.

 

It’s time to embrace the gap that exists after “no longer?” And the only way we finally reach the
gap is to honor the parts that are no longer.

 

But that’s quite difficult to explain to other folk. Even more so at this specific time in our collective, worldwide experience of the pandemic. Such horrid pain, brutal economic crisis, people’s lives falling apart or lives ending in greater numbers right now. Where the current feeling and directive is that we should be bloody grateful for any work we have and do what we can to keep it, right?

 

Definitely NOT a time to be choosing, re-evaluating, assessing life and not working as much. It’s the time to HOLD ON and sit tight. Or what if this is THE PERFECT TIME because of it?

 

More so than ever I feel we are being called to live into our truth, our dreams, our yearnings and what makes our hearts sing. To do what we can to pursue our passions and find a way to need less stuff along the way. You got that lesson from Covid right? How much of the nonsense we consume and buy has not much meaning after all –and in fact family, health, connection, and heart stuff is what really matters? Can we finally need less stuff, but choose to experience life more?

 

I appreciate that right now many folk are up against the wall trying to make ends meet, or fight for their lives. Do more, earn more, feed families, and handle heartache of separation, losing jobs.

We are holding on, digging deep, and sitting tight. Panicking. Feeling deep pain and loss.

But I often choose to go against the grain – or let’s rather say that it chooses me. As much as I feel I too should be “panicking” or anxious about what is next, what is my work going to look like, where in the world is next, will a partner come along, will I ever afford to rent let alone buy a home in a Euro-based economy after South Africa and how am I going to survive if I am walking away from so much I have done for the past 17 years. Those are real fears to face head-on. But still, this nagging idea of just taking time to do the work would not leave me alone.

#Prayer

After being in lockdown for four months (and dealing with testing positive for Covid where I got off lightly to be honest, with just a few days of symptoms) it was time to follow this call as soon as the opportunity arose. So although I had been on forced pause along with the rest of the world, I needed a more intentional pause. I just needed to go into the cave and immerse.

I am acutely aware that the idea of taking time off might seem very self-indulgent to you – but to me it was actually a matter of sanity. Because doing this retreat and pilgrimage was not the easy option! The easy option would have been to stay hunkered down with my mum, eat delicious food and quaff vino, kick back into gear and start a new project, coaching clients, launch the next online mentorship and get cracking with booking people on our retreats for 2021. I can manufacture energy and enthusiasm to get back up, get busy and soldier on the same as always. To keep at it, be productive and out there. That’s the easier, more common choice. It always has been for me. So that left me in a quandary as over the past few years it has left me feeling flatter and flatter every time. My nickname has been KickassKate for many years – but I no longer felt like kicking my own ass into gear, or anyone else’s for that matter.

Where does that leave me, or you?

I wanted to feel the JOY and energy and be IN LOVE with all of my life again. To feel the sparkle in my eyes burst out of my body – when the truth was that was NOT how I was feeling. I was wading through sludge. A personal bog like the peaty ones here on the island. The words that were coming to me more and more, in sleep and wake, were simply …

I’m DONE!

 

KickassKate  – NOT. Kate was tired and burnt out. No more to give to clients – what used to be my soothing balm (aka work) was just not soothing for me anymore. Dammit. I knew in my soul that I was no longer in love with all I had created, but I wanted to find a way to honor it all and take with me the parts and aspects that I DO still love.

I didn’t want to throw the proverbial baby out with the murky bathwater.

That’s why most folk don’t do it. In fact, for about three years I hadn’t been doing it. I’d been tinkering with it – but not immersing. I had been feeling it, needing it, yearning for it, but not quite yet doing it all. I activated some aspects of contracting (vs. expanding) and saying NO – like selling off one part of my business to a beautiful client who is loving it all into better existence again. Or by deciding not to re-certify with an international organization to deliver their material. A tough one, as I love the organization and it had afforded me some incredible experiences around the world by running high-end retreats for their forums, or doing 5-star events with them. I was also “contracting” by not taking on as many coaching clients and referring them out to trusted colleagues. But it didn’t feel drastic enough and I didn’t love enough of the elements I was still choosing to keep in my busy work bundle. And there was the other stuff going on for me too… that’s life!

 

MY LIFE WAS COLLIDING…

  1. I desperately needed to re-look my business and work passion
  2. It was time to embrace no longer being part of a “we” and facing life in a new country as an “I” – a real rift in identity.
  3. I was bidding farewell to the Rainbow Nation country that gifted me a beautiful home since the age of 3.

#Double Rainbow Prayer

In other words, I needed to shed a few different skins all at once. A somewhat daunting triangle.

My PURPOSE for returning to this sacred isle of Iona on pilgrimage was to close out and honor this complex triangle.  To disentangle and disconnect from these three aspects of life.  To find a way to say goodbye to and appreciate what was no longer, so I can finally sit in that GAP that exits before what comes next. That place we often gloss over.

We don’t really get taught how to dismantle and deconstruct our life, do we? 

So I came to Iona exactly one month ago today, with bravery and daftness in my wee heart, resigned to sitting on my butt no matter where I found myself on the island and DOING THE WORK.

 

THE PRACTICAL SIDE:

I couldn’t believe my “luck”.

Back in the UK Midlands where my Mum lives, I noticed a three-week GAP where I could take off from work without any obligations. Whoa – no obligations – what’s that? No mentorships, boot camps, coaching clients could go on momentary pause, a new writer’s contract was all signed and sealed and thanks to Covid, no upcoming retreats to dash off to host in a far off land. The hardest part of the decision was not so much around post-Covid safety of travel to be honest – as things were easing up and opening again. The challenge was the reality of “taking time off”. Just because the gap shows itself, doesn’t mean I usually take it. I normally fill it with work, of course!

It was challenging to decide to ignore emails and daring to tell/ask/beg my business partner I needed and wanted three weeks offline. We had no writing challenges, no Feedback Fridays – nobody really needed me for ANYTHING! Bliss.

As an entrepreneur, all my life, one of the hardest ideas is to take sufficient time off. Over the last five years or so, I have learned to work fewer weekends and take a bit of a break either side of big work projects, perhaps a few days here and there. But to be honest over the past 17 years, I could never go more than 3 days without looking at my computer, phone, mail or FB. And when you do what you love it’s also much easier to be ON all the time.

 

You can bet the fears still rushed right at me in all forms:
Is it really, really safe to travel so soon?
I’m eating into my money at the poor ZAR currency conversion.
Who the hell am I to do this?
What if someone needs me? (Oh please need me)
What will others think blab la bla?
Will mum be ok on her own – I can’t just pop back

But I started dreaming about this wee island every night and it started weaving its spell again from the moment I gave it a glance in the realm of possibility. It had been 17 years since I last set foot upon it!

I had no idea if or when we would really be able to travel from UK to Scotland, but I started making tentative plans. The UK and Scottish Government announced new measures, and I had to heed both restrictions. Fast forward a few weeks and I was on a train, masked up and double sanitizer on hand.

 

It was all a bit surreal. Only two other people on the train platform. Only 4 in the carriage to Glasgow. The first stop was a legally operating hotel in Oban, then the ferry to Mull, and next a bus across Mull where I was the ONLY passenger. I got to natter all the way to the driver. From 3 meters away of course. The poor lad had spent four months driving his bus back and forth twice every day for a 70 minute trip with no passengers: just parcels, shopping, wool and supplies for the housebound locals. Talk about a driving meditation with no cars and just a few sheep and highland cattle to look out for on the single lane track. Suddenly a real person to carry was such a novelty – so much so that he forgot to open the hold for my suitcase when we arrived in Fionnphort and was about to turn around and drive merrily off. Hey, wait up there Steve.

#Surreal Travel

And then there is the final Calmac ferry before you can set foot on Iona.

The power of showing up somewhere always amazes me. The initial cottage I had secured for 6 weeks had fallen through a few days before traveling. Covid measures meant they needed it back. I was planning 3 weeks of intense retreat and an extra 3 weeks to start writing again. So my wonderful friend, DF, back from when I worked on the island 18 years ago in the summer of 2002, kindly helped secure me a new spot. But for 2 weeks only. I knew I had to let go of all plans, anticipated outcomes and just BE THERE to allow the magic of Iona to find me – I hoped. My life motto, and specifically living location free for almost 4.5 years, is that you can’t know everything before you go.

 

I am now in my third accommodation and have been here for a month today!

 

 

THE PROCESS TO FREEDOM 

  1. Set time aside and had a crystal clear intention.
  2. Told my patient business partner I was going offline and to please NOT bug me for work for three weeks (we had one wee emergency but it took all of three minutes, and even did an interview as it was pure fun)
  3. Told my current coaching clients I was taking three weeks off. Eeeck.
  4. Just disappeared off FB. No big song and dance announcing what I was up to. I just did it and went offline. Biggest relief of all.
  5. Stayed OFF email, Facebook and ALL other social media platforms for three weeks.
  6. Reached out to friends and family as and when needed. I wasn’t doing a silent retreat so was happy to interact a bit when needed. Just not with clients or work.
  7. My phone lived on airplane mode 90% of the time.
  8. Interacted with locals when I felt drawn to – fascinating people live here!
  9. 90% of the time, I was on my own, in silence.
  10. Every day I slept, walked, swam, ate, napped, read as I felt like.
  11. I never felt compelled to listen to any music, audiobooks or such like. Just nature and me.
  12. Devoured 10 books that I found in the cottage – good rollicking Scottish romances, moving memoirs, deeply powerful Shamanic books – all sorts to immerse in when I needed a break to let my process stew.
  13.  8-10 hours daily I DID MY PROCESS. And it continued in my sleep. Letting it all seep slowly into my soul.

 

Mostly I reveled and rejoiced in the depths of NOT doing anything or needing to BE anywhere at any given time. No one needed anything from me. That’s pure bliss. My modus operandi was to do what I wanted when I wanted. For the first three days I also made things a bit more intense for myself. Ha – of course we have to push a bit to get results.

On the day I arrived, I shared dinner and some vino to reconnect with my friend and her partner. Armed with delicious Italian pasta and lamb ragu in my tummy, the next morning I started a rigorous 3-day water fast to kick start my body and soul. That means ONLY WATER mixed with a bit of lemon, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup (for the blood-brain barrier). I’m pretty used to some shorter fasting so it wasn’t tooooo much of a shock to my system. I was a determined little beast on a mission. After my initial water fast, I kept up intermittent fasting for about 16 hours every day to help support the inner work I was doing. And ate what I felt like for the rest of the time. No booze for the first 10 days to up the ante.

I went swimming EVERY DAY. No matter the weather! 

You might think Scotland sounds drab, cold and dreary – but oh my – the color of the water up here. The astounding beauty that is the Hebridean islands. A photographer’s delight! Think intense azure blue and liquid aqua with the shimmering Iona light that bounces through it. The sound of Iona can look like sheets of silver glass, punctuated with a dolphin fin or a sailboat, or it can rage wild and thrash on the rocks, hiding the white sand or the craggy rocks at high tide.

But by swimming, I really just mean that I got wet in the freezing Atlantic. Wim Hof and his cold-water therapy principles inspired me, but deep inside I am really the gal that grew up swimming in the warm Indian Ocean with the Benguela current. Toasty warm. The mild Mediterranean is my other favorite thanks to our annual Greek writing retreats. When I lived in Cape Town, I never did quite cotton on to swimming, as it was mind-numbingly cold for me. I’m just not a cold-water salmon kind of gal.

On day one, my version of swimming involved running in, plunging my body in the water, squealing and shrieking loudly and running out gasping. Probably wet for less than 3 seconds, to be honest. I thought – come on you sissy – this is a great cleansing practice. A ritual. Why don’t we try to double it every day till you get to ten minutes? Are you mad? Because now I am talking to myself out loud. Shivering. Come on – we can use the power of the water to enhance what we are trying to do here with our spirit Kate. Aaaargh ok dammit, you win, you damn voice in my head.

So the game was on, and the next day I ran in and while gasping ridiculously, I counted to 10 seconds. FAST. Day 3 – 30 seconds later made me feel like I had just run a 5 km race. The next day was a big jump to 2 minutes. Then 5, 8, and 10 minutes. In just one week I reached my 10-minute hurdle. Now I’m up to 15 minutes. It’s just about the BREATHING (ok, I still mean gasping) and counting, breath by breath. The body is incredibly resilient and adaptable. I am not in the running for any frozen lake swimming or artic jaunts, but I feel so invigorated by it. Like a little personal challenge. We won this one.

On day 4, I was looking into the mirror after thawing out in the warm shower, and SAW myself looking back at me for the first time in a very long time! Rather than simply looking in the mirror while usually putting on some mascara, moisturizer or lipstick, I was suddenly aware of ME. I truly saw ME in the reflection. I peered deeply into my own eyes (sounds so cliché) and said hello to myself at last. I had been missing for a while. Missing from myself. Missing from life.

 

 

 

 

 

 


#Daily Swimming 

 

It was like a little jolt of reality and I felt I was back IN my body again.

I went back and looked at the Wim Hof shower challenge where they ask you to get up to 1 minute in a cold shower by the end of a MONTH. Pah – what a lark. I was officially a hard-core cold-water swimmer compared to that standard. And again when I say swim, this is not what I do in Greece when swimming 400 meters to my “rock”. Here I just dunk my body in the shallows and wallow there, head out, gasping and trying to calm my breath while staring at the view, going tingly numb. Mad huh?

I also have to confess that I swim in the nick – again purely for practical reasons. It’s not one of my fantasies playing out in any way – it’s purely because I don’t want to trudge back to my wee cottage with a dripping costume. That feels too much of a stretch in the cold, rainy, misty and wild 12-degree weather in summer. I know my limits – so I am basking in the idea of being a Scottish seal for a while, cavorting in the shallow water when no one is around :)

But for the most part, I was really living by the rhythm of my body’s needs. Or collecting beautiful rock and stones :)

 

I also walked and hiked every day – no matter the weather! Usually 6 kinds of weather on one day! My body just got outside and did it. I did my work as I walked. Glorious long meanders on the pathways hugging the shore. Sometimes a quick chat with a local, or a wave from afar. I walked the land from the North End (always my favorite) to the pebbled beaches of St Columba’s bay with its beautiful meditational Labyrinth (annual upkeep done with love by my same friend) as a reward after the trek. It is in this bay that you might catch a lucky glimpse of the Iona marble or Serpentine. I found myself watching sheep graze the “machair” golf course or merrily much on seaweed gazing out over the Atlantic en route to Port Ban, or heading up high to Dun-I.

 

#St Columba’s Bay – the pebbled beach to search for Iona Marble

Purple hues, electric greens and mesmerizing blues alongside dramatic greys. An artist’s dream palette. Spellbinding sunsets and days upon day of grey. Except that grey here is charcoal, black, white and silver – misty and wild. Not the soul-killing city-grey. Electrically alive grey!

 

Walking shifts the body and moves the soul. Padam Padam! Swimming cleanses the body and refreshes your mind – Great combo! There were so few people on the island as it was just starting to re-open post lockdown that I felt truly grateful to be here at this time.

 

Layered on top of the above practical aspects was the inner work. The real reason I was here after all. I was definitely not on “holiday” trying to escape post-lockdown with mum. So although I was in the most ridiculously splendid scenery possible, I was here to do my “close –out” work and heed the call for my personal pilgrimage. I had a crystal clear intention to plunge deep into my HEART.

 

H: Honour

E: Engage

A: Acknowledge

R: Recapitulate

T: Transform

 

I think of life unfolding in chapters and books. It felt like I needed to close out a few open chapters in a few different books.

In the Nagual tradition (check out Carlos Castaneda’s books) they talk about a process known as “Recapitulation”. I understand this to be a profound spiritual practice to retrieve all of your energy from the past – to help you live in this moment as a warrior of light. To be “at the ready” for whatever comes your way. To not be stuck in the past. Living lighter I guess.

You might understand this as a process commonly known as “cutting the ties that bind”. It is quite simply about finding all the aspects of yourself, your spirit, your energy, your memories that you may have left floating around the world and do some work at many levels to gather that energy back to yourself. In practical terms, this means being present, clear, at peace and un-hooked. It doesn’t mean you wish things hadn’t happened, but more that you are no longer controlled by them. You find a way to release that which is not yours and no longer serves you and wrap up all the good stuff in your heart. Very liberating. It is a long-standing practice in my life and one way I have been able to live a little lighter on the planet.

Everything we do, eat, touch, smell, experience, get hurt by, affected by, every place we visit, everything we love or hate – leaves a footprint. Stays connected to us. Some of that is good for us and some of it weighs us down. If you have ever read my CLEAR YOUR CLUTTER book, it’s all about releasing the sticky energetic connection from a place, person or object. Removing the dirt, the dross and the debris and then truly loving what you choose to keep in your home and life.

My aim was to actively look back at the last 17 years since becoming a professional life coach in the UK. That was the last time I visited Iona, so it was a full circle for me! In 2003 I went from Iona to chef in Provence, France for 3 months (yes even as a non-qualified chef!) and that summer job financed my coaching studies. I qualified as a Master Life Coach – and was one of the first Life Coaches in South Africa. I have had the most beautiful, BUSY career and business and now, in 2020, I wanted to do a massive honoring of that time.

 

Closure is about looking back with reflection, honor, openness and curiosity. Being willing to go deep into the cave, but not necessarily falling into a hole that is too hard to get out. It felt like a deeply profound way to cherish it all. It felt necessary yet somewhat daunting. But I was determined and resolute in my heart.

 

It was about RETRIEVING myself back to myself, finding all the parts of me that felt scattered, hurt, tired, depleted and heartbroken. I wanted to find a way to stop feeling so thin, torn apart, burnt out, irritated and with nothing to give anyone anymore. I had gotten to the point where I was feeling anxious and stressed about anything I was doing for work – suffering from performance anxiety, often depressed, tearful or downright sobbing, wanting to shut it all down and run away. I also wanted to go searching for and honoring the delights, the magic, and the incredible opportunities that have crossed my path. I guess it’s a bit like when an actor receives a lifetime award and everyone acknowledges what he or she has accomplished, only I came to do that for myself.

 

Because the truth is that I had started really questioning my ability, my self-worth, my passion. So it was time to stop, gather and sit IN IT and face it all head-on.

 

Even as I write this down, I know I am not doing full justice to my experience. I’m not sure words can convey the depth of my exploration – deep into my heart and recesses of my mind. Waking, sleeping, walking, swimming, resting, dreaming, walking over and over and over again with it all brimming and swirling through me. I would sit for hours in one spot staring at the ocean and just do “the process”.

I worked quite systematically in some ways through each year, from 2003 all the way up to2020, gathering back all the threads of energy, pulling back my strength, increasing my vitality and expanding my heart. At the end of each cycle, I did some powerful writing processes to capture the essence of that time. I also re-looked areas of work over and above each year, to redo them and relook. I didn’t want to miss anything out.

 

Many years ago I created an “online course called Close Out Strong” which supports you to honor the year gone by in order to move in the New Year feeling lighter – well imagine that process times 17!

 

At the end of 12 days, I had brought myself up to present time. I had walked back and revisited every single:

Home and office de-cluttered
Clients coached
Retreats hosted
Mastermind facilitated
Workshops or trainings delivered
Online courses written and run
Interviews given and articles penned
Stood back on the stages of every talk I ever shared
Re-connected with each of my books written and movie I starred in
Every partner I had shared life with, but more emphasis on my recent relationship
Every home I have lived in
Every country visited

…and every single experience I could find for the past 17 years.

The highs and the lows!

Layer after layer after layer.

#layers of colour with grey

Stripping away the ‘krap’, the gunge, the lack, and the ego. Relishing in the delights. Pulling my energy back to me. Releasing what wasn’t mine back to where it came from. Release. Put the final full stop on that chapter. Close the book.

This process is hard, it’s deep and it requires courage. Are you being called to do it at this time in your life? Could you give it to yourself – the permission, space, the time, and let yourself do the work?

 

From day 4 onwards I started to feel awareness rise like sap in my veins. I felt inspiration, vitality and sparkle flood back through my cells.

 

If I can convey anything at all to you – it is the tangibility of the energy that I feel now. I am able to say with my head held high and my heart ticking strong, that I am so deeply in awe of what I have created, done, experienced and explored in my business and life. Because I hadn’t been feeling like that – I was feeling useless, bored, questioning what I had accomplished, wondering if I had made any real difference in the world, wondering what I had contributed. I had no real energy, no spark, no sustainable vitality and I had to muster up motivation rather than feel inspired. Whilst I wasn’t exactly ill, I felt like my spirit had become weary and heavy. Other than some aches and pain, old injuries, the coming and going of depression and menopause thrown into the mix, I was still reasonably healthy, resilient and strong. But not being ill is definitely not the same thing as being truly healthy, vitally alive, awake and in love with it all.

I felt zinging and pulsating again – I could hear differently. I had more energy again and was getting better sleep. I felt proud, alive, awake, accomplished, in awe. I also got the closure I was desperately seeking.

From work, my ex-life-partner, and South Africa.

My gigantic triangle.

 

EMBRACE THE GAP

On day 12, I released that my closure initial process was done. Now that the closure felt complete – I took myself off for a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc and a sandwich in the glorious sun, to watch the ferry boat come and go.

I was now facing the unknown of the gap.

The sitting

Waiting

Wondering

Exploring

Following threads as they appear

Still reading, swimming, walking, sleeping, eating, and do them over and over again.

Trying desperately not to fill the gap too soon. To not push forward. To not start mind mapping the future – as that is such an exciting process to engage with. It’s one I have helped 1000’s of clients do. But the trick was to wait. To be. To still NOT do.

 

I had glimpses of the elements of my work I still love. Writing. Retreats. Then a wee flicker of possibility somehow found its way into my heart – a tiny glimmering thread I am now following both literally and metaphorically. But not forcing or controlling it. Just being delighted by its welcome presence more than anything. My friend simply mentioned a local woman who does something extraordinary. The moment she mentioned it, my whole being resonated when the words came out of her mouth. I didn’t even know exactly what it was that this local did. I just loved the “sound” of it. My heart sat up and paid attention and I felt a little smitten by the idea of it. Weird? I had been seeking something creative to fall in love with – a hobby of sorts. It’s been all work and travel for so many years and I have wanted something to DO with my hands. Something to bring me to life again. I always feel envious of people with hobbies. Creative pursuits.

 

Sorry to leave you in the lurch here– but there is no more to say about it on this blog – we have been at this one long enough today. Are you really still here? I just know that something is unfolding inside me on the island that feels juicy and full of life. I’ll write about it next time – when I know more.

But for now, I embrace the GAP.
This space of being complete, closed out, full of awe and proud of it all.

Happy and content with the NO LONGER, but not yet knowing what will come in the NOT YET.

Not sure where “home” or nest will be.
Not sure what all the facets of work will look like. Being an author and running retreats are still sticking like glitter glue J

Not sure who is going to come bounding into my life and heart

Sit here and be still, be patient Kate.

Just do what needs to be done for now. Today.

Stop trying to shift gears too soon.

Don’t start too many things as default from the old.

Don’t gloss over the gap.

 

“It is a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up space.
Pema Chodron”

 

REACH OUT

I wish you well on your chosen journey! I’d honestly LOVE to hear from you as I emerge slowly back into the world again – pop a comment or drop me a mail. It might take me longer to reply as the connection is a bit dodgy on the island, and I am not spending much time “working”. Are you in this phase of needing to get closure and embrace the gap? It’s really hard, isn’t it? I do hope that if you stayed reading with me till the end, that you have taken away something from my experience that can support your journey. It was just really important for me to pen it.

You could also go and check out “THE STRATEGIC POWER OF DISCONNECTING”. It was written a while ago, and I’ll update it again soon, but it might help you along your path right now?

 

ABOUT KATE
As you gather from this post, Kate is busy re-jigging her life as she embraces the gap. She is an international, location free author who leads immersive and experiential retreats in her favorite power spots – ludicrously idyllic locations around the world. She has become intrigued by the notion of regularly taking time out to restore and rejuvenate the spirits and find that sense of joie de vivre. She still loves helping you to understand the power of slowing down and saying hello to yourself and your dreams! And it seems that being an author and running retreats are the pieces that will stick going forward.

#seaweed munching sheep

 

I’m going against the grain – step away from all the online offerings

By | Insights to help you #quickshift | No Comments

DATED 2nd April 2020 – amidst all the chaos
I’m going against the grain here with a message from my heart to yours…

You do NOT have to say YES to every single thing, course, challenge, FB live or meeting request you see wafting past your nose online.

Step away!

PLEASE STOP SIGNING UP FOR EVERYTHING THAT YOU SEE ON OFFER ONLINE. Yes, including any of mine. I never suggest anything unless it also holds true for me!

Today is simply a short message – nothing to buy, click or sign up for. Phew, you can relax.

I have been working online, (with an old fashioned landline and Skype originally) for most of my 17 years as a coach, and right now everyone is naturally scrambling to get online. It’s pure survival out there to keep businesses going, I get it. But it also doesn’t mean YOU have to do it all!

While I believe most folk are offering services and products with good intention (lots of wonderful free stuff emerging, or very reduced prices – how wonderful) and we are all wanting to be of support to our communities, you do NOT need to be signing up for 10 different challenges or online courses right now.

Choose who and what you wish to support. Intentionally. My message today is to give you permission to say NO to all the noise out there. Otherwise, it’s only serving to ramp up potential feelings of heightened obligation, FOMO, guilt and “I just feel bad I’m not supporting them”.

Just this morning I told one of my very good friends that I would NOT be doing her awesome challenge (and it really is an awesome fitness one) as I have my own daily exercise/meditation routine locked in my body after traveling for 4 years. I also said that I am so proud of her and what she’s offering to her clients. Just not for me at this time. And then I breathed a bit deeper to have it OFF my list.

You see the problem is that you are probably replacing one busy-ness with another form. A different type of addiction. After all, you have been through and are facing, is that really going to cut it for you? All those things you have been wanting to do but blamed work or commuting, meetings or bosses for the reason you couldn’t nap every day, or garden or finish that book – so is staying BUSY BUSY BUSY by signing up to EVERYTHING on offer really what you need to be doing at this challenging time?

What if this (both marvellous and horrendous) time is more about finding a new set point, listening more (to self and others) going quiet, within, still, reflecting? Not just one looooong list of things to DO every day.

It’s about health, rest, family and connection.
Staying safe above all else.
Helping others where you can.
Not contributing to all the noise.
Shhhh – find that core of quiet inside.

Do you really need to know how to make pasta pockets filled with sea urchin and wasabi, or how to make yourself look like Kim whatshername?

This is a great time to UNSUBSCRIBE off channels, newsletters, courses and anything else you don’t read but clogs your inbox (including mine if I am not your vibe)

What if you are super cool just the way you are – enjoying more time to BE with yourself and your family (even if that means connecting virtually). Figuring out what really matters.
Naps
Reading
Resting and staring out the window
Figuring online food delivery (reality!)
Dancing to silly songs
Laughing
Space – if you have the luxury of it!
Doing what you feel INSPIRED to do – not tick off your list

I am encouraging you (and myself) to be super mindful of how many challenges we sign up for as each one requires so much commitment and vooma. Well to do it properly, doesn’t it? If you know me, I am always about quality over quantity and one done to maximum effort is better in every way that 5 half-a$$ed ones.

I am suggesting a maximum of three (max!!!) to keep body brain and heart strong. You could think of the categories you really do need support with – exercise/eating/energy OR
creativity/mindset/inspiration/mental health OR
business/brand/work or book goals.

Rather do less and do it properly
Pick just one and make it matter
OR three and nail them
But not ten and feel bad!

Stay safe and sane Kate and reach out if you need to.
Love Kate

12 pairs of Gloves – maybe my minimalist self won this round

By | Food for thought, Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformational Journeys, Transformational thoughts | No Comments

To risk or not to Risk – could I cope with 12 pairs of gloves?

The quandary: There’s a question on many female’s hearts and minds this week as the 29th looms ahead about whether to really pop THE question. It might also be on everyone’s hearts and minds wondering if they might be the recipient of said question. It has been amusing listening to the radio in the UK this week as people phone in with stories- one guy decided to go on a lad’s weekend to avoid being with his girlfriend. Enough said I reckon he’s stating his case in advance.

Never before has this been an honest reality for me… and while I am fiercely modern, I also love a little tradition thrown into the mix. On Leap Year, it IS tradition for women to pop THE question – and nowadays I think it means a great day for anyone to pop the question, regardless of what relationship you are in – straight, gay, I don’t give a damn.

Have you been wearing knee-pads this week practicing?

It was on my radar (was being the emphasis here), and now the only radar for me is the one in the plane’s cockpit. You know how some folk fly on their birthday or Christmas day to AVOID that supposed day of celebration?

Well, suffice it to say that I intentionally chose the 29th February as the day to fly south again- just easier on my heart. Should I have gotten a single discount? That would be good advertising for airlines, I reckon!

Ok, give me a collective hug and we can move on to talk about these gloves! My Minimalist Self is feeling let off the hook. If you have no idea what I mean – check this out below … and bets of luck navigating the 29th February! If you know you need to take time out and get away from all the STUFF going on – be sure to grab my free series on The Strategic Power of Disconnecting ….maybe I will see you on a quiet, healing, contemplative retreat as you make changes in your life this year. I will keep you posted when you sign up for that info.

 LEAP DAY CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
by Vigdis Hocken

Women Propose to Their Men

According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years.

This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar.

12 Pairs of Gloves

In some places, leap day has been known as “Bachelors’ Day” for the same reason. A man was expected to pay a penalty, such as a gown or money, if he refused a marriage proposal from a woman on Leap Day.

In many European countries, especially in the upper classes of society, tradition dictates that any man who refuses a woman’s proposal on February 29 has to buy her 12 pairs of gloves. The intention is that the woman can wear the gloves to hide the embarrassment of not having an engagement ring. During the middle ages there were laws governing this tradition.

Leap Day Babies World Record

People born on February 29 are all invited to join The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.When do Leap Day Babies Celebrate Their Birthdays?

According to the Guinness Book of Records, there are Leap Day World Record Holders both of a family producing three consecutive generations born on February 29 and of the number of children born on February 29 in the same family.

Unlucky in Love

In Scotland, it used to be considered unlucky for someone to be born on leap day, just as Friday 13th is considered an unlucky day by many. Greeks consider it unlucky for couples to marry during a leap year, and especially on Leap Day.

St Oswald’s Day

Leap day is also St Oswald’s Day, named after the archbishop of York who died on February 29, 992. His memorial is celebrated on February 29 during leap years and on February 28 during common years.

Malaga Momentos – My City of Healing

By | Insights to help you #quickshift, Transformational Journeys | No Comments

This is my tribute to a city that held me tight while I grieved a part of my life no longer real or relevant, cried a whole river of tears, let the sun warm my bones and fell in love with me again. Like L’Oreal says …‘cos I’m worth it, baby!

I have lived my entire life believing that certain places call out to my soul. They whisper quietly and then if perhaps I don’t listen timeously, they yell a little louder. It always feels like threads of energy are attached to my heart and they start tugging gently at me. I have never been able to adequately explain it, suffice it to say that I am a gypsy-traveller-nomad at heart, and love to move. Often. I also understand the innate value of a home, a base, and roots, but I have danced and moved between these two extremes all my life.

The way it happens varies – it might be the first time someone utters the name of that place and it feels like the words leave their lips and send a cupid’s arrow straight to my heart; or an image lands on my retina for the first time, or the words jump off the page in a book and just…won’t… let…go…!

Sometimes it’s just a whispering deep inside…that inevitably becomes stronger and stronger. Having traveled alone on a plane at the tender age of 8, that bug bit early. Many times I have literally sold up everything I own in order to make a trip to follow the strings that are pulling the hardest. The yearning that will not quieten down. 4 years ago I even took it a bit further, and as a ‘late-in-my-40’s’ year old, packed up again and went #LocationFree with my business still intact and growing. I have just written about that journey for my 5th book, due for release later this year.

For 4 years I have had no fixed home of my own, simply following the strings pulling at my heart; combining retreats, talks and coaching work around the world – and LOTS of online work, along with many visits of the heart to South Africa. One suitcase and a large armful of dreams. But now, I am finally looking for my next home. A little place to call mine – a nest to return to. Roots to plant and lavender to pick. Listening once again to the stirrings in my heart. I’m also getting clear about where I DON’T want to be, which can pave the way for where I do. There is a very loooong back story as to how I landed up coming to Spain – my business partner Sarah walked a part of the Camino in 2018 and together we decided it would be a spectacular way to combine writing and walking. So we did. Another whole story layered on top of that was that in my personal relationship, Spain seemed like somewhere to explore as a potential home for us in the future.

But where to explore? And where to explore for my heart?

Choosing Malaga was easy. My mama-bear lives in a beautiful retirement village in the UK and I have gotten to know many of her lovely neighbors. Cue a wonderful couple who spends a LOT of time in Spain and own homes here. So I popped across for tea asking for some necessary advice. I was presented with a good old fashioned map and a destination. They know my age, my interests and I just said – “where do you think I should spend the winter to write my book?”
“MALAGA!”

“Where?”

“Malaga – you will LOVE it. Lots of culture, museums, history, art, expats, locals, awesome food, warm etc, etc.

“Where? Oh there, on the coast – I see it.”

“But not to the West Kate; Malaga or East.”

Got it. Done. That’s all it takes for me sometimes. A clear directive delivered at the right time. Apparently, many people I know have already been to Malaga, including my parents (and Hemingway of course); but I didn’t know that at the time (in my active brain). Go figure.

So I duly went into my trusted housesitters profile  (click link if you want a 25% discount) and started looking for a Malaga based house-sit for the winter. Mmmmalaga. A 2.5 month house-sit for one kitty popped onto my screen. Looks easy peasy. And warm – just like a Durban winter. If you are not from South Africa just think cozy, sunny and warm, a bit like Florida in the winter. Where all the human “swallows” might go in search of thawing out. You just need a light jacket in winter, no serious heating and can soak up plenty of vitamin D.

Well, yes, that beats the dreary UK over the winter, dunnit?

Fast forward – we facilitated the Walk ‘n Write Retreat in Northern Asturias region; my partner doesn’t join me as originally planned; Sarah and I visit Madrid for 4 nights; I plonk Sarah on the plane and then I head South. Alone. I like the way Malaga rolls off my tongue. Sounds exotic – I’m spending winter in Malaga. Tra la la – like I’m some millionairess with a house on the hill. Ha – If only I knew what was in store.

The potential house-sit didn’t pan out, after all, so while in Madrid I had booked 6 weeks in a glorious modern Air B‘nB New York type loft, thinking I could get writers to join me for a residency while I wrote over winter too. Or perhaps friends could pop over from the UK? It was gorgeous and trendy and just a short walk from everything. The morning after I arrived, I walked the 18 minutes across the “dry river” bridge into the historic city center to go and sign up for Spanish Classes. After all, I needed a total immersion if considering living in Spain. I thought it best I scrub up a bit and take the language plunge. Plus it would get me to meet people in a city where I knew literally no one and I could use it with my significant other.

I fell in love. INSTANTLY. Everywhere I looked made me beam from the inside out.

I have three innate questions when visiting a new place:
Do I love it?
Will I ever come back?
Could I live here?

It was an instant YES to all three. It took me by surprise actually. These questions get asked and answered internally for me, without having to actively process them the moment I arrive somewhere. Most places I visit I generally tend to really like, or even love. Some, I definitely know I’ll be back to visit again and then a few grab me and my heart almost instantly. Malaga was an instant cupid moment and it has stayed with me. Four months later, I still absolutely love this city, and I absolutely could live here – but I also have come to realize that Spain is somehow not my next home. It’s a hard one for anyone else to fathom what I am saying – but that is how it feels for ME. It’s been a really interesting concept for me to lean into. I could live in Malaga but not in Spain. Mmm ok – so it’s off the list as a permanent base then.

I am still on the hunt for my next country! How exciting!

Malaga will 100% be a place I return to. It feels like home even though it won’t be my permanent home. Does that make sense? The first Air BnB apartment turned out to be inappropriate ‘cos I couldn’t sleep, thanks to the neighbor’s TV on till 3 am. Thankfully I managed to cancel the rest of my booking and moved straight into the center of the historic town. There is a fabulous brand called ILOFTMALAGA – great curated apartments of very high standards. Funky, modern and minimalist – me to a T. My quiet apartment looked onto a bustling street in the heart of the olde town. Bliss.

I started looking for another house-sit. I also found the awesome website GUIDE TO MALAGA and reached out to it’s founder, Joanna Styles, and joined a networking session to meet like-minded business women. Bliss! Her guide really is the GO-TO for anything that you want to know about. Be sure to grab it when visiting Malaga.

“Why a house-sit Kate”, you may ask?

Mostly because I love to feel like I’m really IN a city, living there like a local, with animals to look after and using local transport – rather than being a visitor looking from the outside in. Can you believe that the same housesit from my initial search, was back in play on the membership site, as she had been seriously let down by anther house-sitter? Only this time I was already IN Malaga and could meet the “pussycat’s slave” in person. I got to visit the exquisite property just to the East of Malaga, and it instantly felt like Cape Town – Camp’s Bay to be precise. With a sweet black ’n white kitty to love and vice versa. I needed some animal love! It was a done deal. I had a winter home and a base from which to write my next book and heal my heart. The Cat slave, Melanie, is  helping shift people’s perceptions to become Vegan through her recipes and coaching.

This might be another whole blog post one day, but at a very personal level, suffice it to say I was walking into the “Devil’s Den” by wondering if I could actually LIVE in Spain. It was part of another story of my potential future that was rapidly changing before my eyes– a future that it seemed was sadly not coming to fruition. And yes, I am being a little cryptic on purpose. If you know me, pick up the phone and call to chat for a more personal update! But, sometimes we need to face the fire. Spain was that for me. Healing, writing, walking, crying, yelling at the universe, sleeping, laughing, walking, reading, writing, creating a new community. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Malaga Momentos.

After about 2 weeks of being in Malaga – already with some favorite spots under my belt, an innate understanding of all the cobbled streets, local coffee shops where locals hung out, many, many beach walks, clients taken care of, and my resonance with the city deepening, I realized I needed to really LIVE and CONNECT and be less of a hermit. I was spending too much time alone if this was going to be my home for a few months. Working mostly online can be deceptive that way. I am always connecting with coaching clients, mastermind folk, writer’s and my mentorship groups and always interacting with people, friends, and family. But I needed more connecting IN THE FLESH. I knew I was going to be staying for a minimum of 3 months and I thought I best get to work on building a community of people. Playmates, colleagues, connections to yackety-yack with. Solidarity and friendships. The best way I know how to do that is to do it via something I love. I looked at dance classes, but they started at my bedtime. So what about writing?

I had decided it was the time to start writing my 5th book and had lodged that in my heart as my “winter” project. It’s about the past 4 years of living location free. So I searched for and joined the local Facebook group for Expats, and put up a post about how I was writing a book and asked who fancied joining me for some writing sessions? A simple post. I often do these writing sessions with our writers in our mentorships and regularly sit in community with writers. I was bowled over by the responses, especially a lady from Scotland who lives here all winter who started pointing me to all sorts of people she instinctively thought I’d like to meet. Instant networks and threads for me to explore.

I wasn’t starting the Malaga group as a paid membership or community –simply more to meet people and anchor myself in front of my computer. In the first meeting, there were 5 of us – and in 2 short hours, I had planned my whole book in 13 pages of hand-written notes. I always have a rule that every time you sit to write you need a goal to aim for. I offered this one rule to the group to get everyone to set minimum word count/goals for the writing session. Very little talking – lots of writing and lots of coffee. Word quickly spread. This week, as I leave Malaga, two other writers have taken over the group to keep the energy going and to keep writers writing!  Thanks to a lovely young lad Matt from the USA and Marta from Scotland (a belt loving scriptwriter) who took over,  I somehow feel as if I have managed to leave a little piece of myself here in the form of a committed writing group. That makes me so happy! I had been shown a PERFECT writing spot by my house-sit host. La Galerna is right on the beach in Pedregalejo, and we sit upstairs looking over the Mediterranean. I gathered folk who wanted to write together, once or twice a week. Within just 11 such writing sessions I had finished the first draft of my book. FANBLOODYTASTIC! Thanks to the regular committed folk Marc, Ruth, Carolynne, Eunice, Gian, Jan, Matt, Caroline, Marta and Lina. My regular writing tribe!

I have a small community here now, favorite places that call out to my heart, little back streets I always walk, bus drivers I know to greet, the place I buy my breakfast, an awesome physiotherapist, a weekly co-working meet-up with the fabulous Victoria Watson, a brand & PR expert, my regular pit-stop to the El Haman Turkish hot baths that soothe my muscles as I let the stress slip onto slabs of heated marble. I literally used to pray onto the slabs of marble while pouring buckets of piping hot water over my soul. The power of rituals. Then there is the powerhouse that is the incredible Nathan Manzaneque who runs the BTB networking club. I was also bowled over by the powerhouse of heartfullness, Victoria Ahlen who runs The Vilostrada Foundation doing phenomenal work in Morocco, and she is based between Morocco and Malaga. Or how about early morning Pilates with Ruth on the beach watching the sunrise.

I found a funky hairdresser and the best nail technician I have ever found anywhere. She’s called Angelica – go figure- and she is like a little butterfly on my nails. Or for the gals who need Frida type eyebrows – visit these two gorgeous Polish sisters who make this an unforgettable experience. Lashes and brows with love. I also have many other local coffee shops. I even get to tell established residents where to eat a certain food or entice them to a piano concerto in the magnificent Art Deco Concert Hall. And a guy I make sure I go and visit every time I’m near Plaza Constitution with his puppy called Kitty to offer an ear as he battles the streets. It’s a community for me. I know I will entice you to come and visit and …I already have plans afoot to host a Writing Residency in November 2020. Hosted at a gorgeous, brand new Retreat Centre called VegaHouseSpain run by Ana Capucho Maybe you get to explore this city with me soon?

I walk through it like a local. Smiling!

For me, life is usually about going TO something rather than walking away FROM somewhere else. I know it’s still Europe / Uk that’s pulling me. That’s what I know for now.

But I needed a blank page in between the old and the new. Malaga was my place. Officially leaving South Africa after to-and fro-ing for 4 years, I am in the place of – oh hell – so where next? Where is the place I let myself “pot”. You know- when you POT A PLANT? I have picked up my roots from the 50 years of being in SA, but am now dancing in the air waiting for the drumroll of ….YES, IT’S HERE. To feel the resonance of “This place wants me to stay.”

Malaga offered me a precious place to pause. To regather me to myself. Process and ponder life and where I am going. How do I want to truly live going forward, and how do I want to show up for my work and purpose. Where do I wish to create a proper home and retreat center? What does this new chapter look like and who joins me on it? Do you know what I mean when I say certain cities have the ability to help you heal – from the inside out? Malaga just mostly made me smile – or when I was grieving I could still smile through the tears as I stared at the ocean. It is an outrageously wonderful city to be in over Christmas and New year – the shops and Christmas lights and concerts are simply magnificent.  I also had a dear friend and my mum come visit – and it was so easy to show them “my” city. Every time I spot the ‘Catedral’ I burst into a smile- she suddenly appears as you walk along a narrow street then BOOM – her majestic dome and “manquita arm” is right in front of you. Or walking past Octopus- the multi-million dollar yacht that was berthed in the Puerto all winter. I never did get an invite onto it. Rooftop terraces to bask in the sun sipping vino and tapas. Buskers playing everything from harps, to flutes to opera. A little Flamenco passion and “Naranja” lined streets. I also happened to have a fabulous Spanish teacher who lived in my complex – if ever you need a Spanish language immersion, she’s your teacher! I met many, many, amazing souls and you all know who you are, even if not mentioned in person here. Thank you for making my time in Malaga so precious.

I would really LOVE to know where you have ever found yourself doing some deep inner healing and re-assessment work? Or where you are right now? Was it a bustling city, a new country, or a wee village on a remote island? Was it summer and sun, or snow and shovels?

How long did it take you to come back to yourself – to find a sense of inner rhythm again? I feel like my winter sojourn to Malaga has revived me, and I know everything is gonna be just perfect, even though it’s totally different from what I had imagined unfolding these past few months. Life has a plan for us – we just have to show up and be present.

Drop me a line on kate@kate-emmerson.com to connect- or leave me a comment

If you feel like you need to take some time to gather yourself towards yourself, be sure to come and grab my latest series about THE STRATEGIC POWER OF DISCONNECTING

Love Kate xx

CHAI CHATS: Insights from India Yoga Teachers Training

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A new ritual has developed between my soul sister and me. Once family by paper, we are now family by heart … but with our busy lives and my location free living for the past few years, our connection was often relegated to shorthand Whatsapp messages, a gulped cup of coffee when our paths crossed in CT or JHB, or if lucky, a more extended lunch every now and then. Speaking on the phone never quite cuts it, you know? So in 2018, we decided, in our 50’s, to carve out a new annual ritual of dedicated time together.

Even when we attended our first Yoga Spirit Fest (um, to be honest, it was more of a dance fest just no booze or meat), we were already calling it annual!

Precious time for the two of us to connect – lingering conversations over cups of chai tea and coffee, no rush to cover big headlines only, time to slow down and be with each other. All relationships and friendships need this to feed each other. My recent lifestyle in the past few years have felt like a conundrum – loving the gallivanting and adventures but also skating on the surface of many things in my personal quest to live location free. Some of the insights from our conversations that unfolded in between yoga in 2018 have since transpired and come to fruition in my life. New steps were taken, new business decisions put into action and deeper emotions processed. That’s the unbelievable power when someone who cares, just sits and listens without judgment. Simply lets your words land on their heart. Most times, I can find the solution or feel the next step emerging, just in the speaking and the hearing of it land softly. Do you have that person in your life?

Travel takes an inordinate amount of time and energy for me now. I am never in one place long enough to settle into a routine and BE, to immerse or to rest. Some things have definitely suffered –like knowing that I am not always truly present and patient as a partner or friend when truly needed. Also my lack of deeper connection into a community other than fleetingly popping in before waving goodbye again; or never knowing where my next hair cut might turn out (come on gals, you know the stress of that one right?), The lonely downside of gallivanting globally and another plane to catch. Sounds glamorous when I say I live #locationfree, but it is honestly taking its toll where it really counts.

What if what I really want is the thing that is eluding me? How do I make sure I take the right steps to fulfillment and a way forward that is aligned, and not just skip on to the next place that beckons my gypsy soul?

For our annual connection time, “let’s go to India” we said. Soul Sister has been there many times, but this was a bit different for us, my virgin trip. Our ritual for 2019 was to be a Yoga Teachers Training in Rishikesh, even though neither of us is necessarily rushing out to become a full-on teacher, we wanted a deep IMMERSION and better yoga instruction, more than a pampering retreat experience. “Let’s be bold,” we said, “Let’s aim high,” we said. “Dive right in.” Deeply unprepared, just saying yes and showing up, not really knowing what was in store for us as most of the girls and guys were less than half our age. 8 hours of instruction every day in 33-degree humidity. I sweated half my body away. (darn ….I wish)

Here are some personal insights from 7 short nights in Rishikesh, India…

Get Up and Get Out
On our very first morning, we both jolted naturally awake at 6 am, like little kids on Divali. Knowing we only started our training at ten am on the first day, we could not resist the pull of the mighty River Ganga a few u-bends below us. The most revered, sacred river in India was just at the bottom of our hill. Flowing like a river in flood, even though the monsoon season is over, this immense gushing river speeds past mountains and villages spreading hope, purification and faith to all. Albeit highly polluted to a western brain, it is the pure liquid that is celebrated in full by everyone. Everything centers around it – and the energy from it was honestly joyous and mesmerizing!

We just pulled on clothes, started walking down the hill, jumped in a tuk-tuk, instinctively negotiated the price to a local rate, and followed our nose down the hill. A few kilometers later we realized we were heading away from the bridge we wanted to walk across, so we just jumped out and started walking back, in the morning cacophony of the streets.

In a country where folk are so compassionate and treat each other with the utmost respect, I felt unbelievably safe. Walking with my bag and camera and not one iota of fear or threat. Just huge smiles were greeting us at every turn – and a few amused looks at my mop of silver hair. All Indian women (unless about 80) have thick black, coconut smelling hair. Even the older men dye their silver hair all sorts of colors. Oh well, best I own my silver dowry proudly as it was fun being asked to have my picture taken with locals.

Before most people on our course were even awake, we had already experienced the colorful context of the sacred Mama Ganga in Rishikesh and where we were spending the week.
Do you just get up and out and are you brave and bold when you travel, or shrink away from the experience?

 

Witness the Synchronicities
While mindfulness is becoming the trendy buzz in the western world, the East just LIVES within this philosophy. It’s in the water, the rivers, the food, the air. Nothing to think about – it just seeps out every pore of the locals. It’s why I have always been drawn to it, I guess. But for Westerners, we often have to force ourselves to be wide-awake, mindful, and in gratitude mode to see what’s unfolding in the magic of each moment.

From screeching with laughter at magically appearing bananas in airports, to a profound 45-second sighting of the Dalai Lama floating past us in Delhi domestic airport, to a loved Ashram literally just down the road from our yoga school, to closed doors being unlocked and opened for us in sacred spaces, To caves of profound silence, to intense conversations from all the teachers we experienced that just kept saying the right thing at the right time for me (offering several objective teachings for me personally) ….we just kept noticing and laughing at all the love and life that showed up for us.

Do you witness all the little wonders of synchronicity in life that show up in each moment? Sometimes you just have to lift your eyes and look, deeply look, with soft eyes. Soft eyes will laugh! Soft bellies will laugh. We shouldn’t have a six-pack, just one pack that knows how to live, love, and laugh!

 

Take it as it Comes
You either love it, or you hate it – there is just NO grey in India

India is honestly hot, smelly, chaotic, dirty, and everything else in between. Loud, colorful, generous, poor and sacred. You can either embrace it all, inhale deeply and let it seep into your bones for the full experience, or you can be precious and tiptoe through your time there and hate every minute. And you can never know that until you go! Reading about a place, dreaming about a place, making plans to visit a place, watching movies about a place do not do anything to replace BEING in a place. No short cuts – not even with high definition movies or virtual reality. The power is in the experience of it. Always. We attempt to pre-empt too much with our western brains.

India will likely push your buttons – it pushed mine. But I chose to sink into the experience and surrender. The true art of letting go right? The very darn thing I teach with my de-cluttering and concept of #livelightlivelarge. We cannot control everything in life, but I can do my best to control how much I squirm or delight in response to life and just be ok with it all. That’s within my realm of control. Living in our little haven of Swiss Cottage above Rishikesh was humid, hard, loud and dirty – yet utterly delightful, sacred and filled with unbounded love and respect for life, each other and yoga. 33-degree rooms have no aircon – we’ll still breathe, and I love Bikram, right?

No shoe policy indoors means kinda dirty feet all the time. Who cares. I and my grubby clothes literally smelled all week, no matter what I tried. You know it’s bad when you catch a whiff of yourself! Banknotes than probably have ten diseases present – well bless the money and just pass it on. Weak instant coffee for my daily fix was like gold – until I see a gleaming coffee machine on day 5! The delight in my eyes lit up the whole village! Bikes, cars, tuk-tuks, buses, cows, monkeys, dogs and people all one trail – just keep your wits about you!

Can you honestly allow yourself to immerse fully? If not, then perhaps regroup and get the heck out!

 

Impact of gratitude
Gratitude in India appears a different concept – they see everything they do as an act of service, of love, of serving their faith. With no expectation other than to serve and help. No gratitude needed. I have so much to learn here – I am far more Westernised in my thinking of in and out, give and receive, thank you and showing appreciation. Maybe I need to surrender into service more, to do for the joy of doing, give for the joy of giving. The selflessness oozes out of their pores and shows me up to me!

Our yoga philosophy teacher says when a family makes chapattis, they offer up the first three: one to the gods, one to the cows and one to nature. If very poor, they will split one into three to give the first “three” away, and only then feed the family. Sacred ritual. So often when we as westerners show our thanks by “tipping,” we feel we have helped the other person. But actually, they have allowed us to serve and help them. We are the lucky ones in being able to give, not them for receiving!

This is such a personal test for me – when I saw the look on our teachers’ faces when gifting them something for the week– not even knowing what was in the envelope money wise- it was humbling to see the honest gratitude of being appreciated when no expectation is present. It’s filled with pure love.  No airs and graces, zero expectation. I witnessed such a transition of the ego into the spirit. What we all aim for, right?

These are powerful, dedicated teachers who devote their lives to healing and teaching – and within them runs a deep humbleness that was profound to witness. A small thank you brings so much joy mostly I feel because they see the joy in our giving too. The cycle of life?

So the question I ask is am I honestly being grateful for everything I have and can I do more in service, without expectation of return, or is the western way of always wanting ‘more’ detrimental to inner peace? Seeking more love, more fun, more attention, more sharing. More peace. What about acceptance of what is?  I need to understand the balance of giving with no need for anything in return and balance that with seeking and living with joy and passion. Going where energy flows and spirit is free. I’m finding this is my lesson at the moment.

What’s your current lesson in life?

The amount of money, number of houses, or jewels on our fingers does not a happier, more peaceful person make. That comes from within. I have really attempted to be more satisfied with less, to be living without a home, without too many possessions and needing less generally. Living mostly from a suitcase in the last 3.5 years, ever moving, ever restless, ever traveling, I have been trying my best to tread lightly as I go. Leaving somewhere a little better than when I arrived.

But I still seek lots of experiences in the world. Always wanting more, India taught me about being grateful for every little thing that IS, not what could be.
Who can you give to today, who can you be thankful for, who can you acknowledge – whether by saying something or offering a token of your thanks? It’s all about the smile – make people smile and let yourself laugh from your belly!

 

Different Teachers, Different Strengths
Everyone I came across had something to teach, prod, nudge, or remind me about. There was no getting out of it when 8 hours of every day were immersed in some aspect of the training. The power of ego and how it shows up, the power of purification in the morning even when I was apprehensive of the neti pot, the anticipation of a hard class that landed up being delightful, the blessing of hearing that looking after your own passion and walking away when something doesn’t bring you deep joy, is ok. Truly ok. Everything is perfect just as it is, and you must follow your heart and try to do no harm in the process.

And often it was about how to find the JUICINESS in your hamstrings! Can you imagine – juicy hamstrings? My legs just light up at the thought of being juicy. Learning how going back the most basics of basic yoga positions is often harder than doing the complicated asanas. But all spoke the same thread – it’s all about preparation and purification for meditating, in order to reach enlightenment and compassion. Simple.

My overall take away is that everything and everyone counts – each and every perspective make up the matrix of the whole, and we have to choose what we need at each step along the way. I was left with the conundrum of understanding and knowing in my soul where I am, juxtaposed with how to remain patient, kind and trusting that we each have to walk our own journey. My eternal dilemma in life.

I also remember that we don’t have to be all things to all people – we each resonated and gelled with different teachers during the week. Just like we resonate with different people in our line of work – yet often we take it so personally if we feel like we aren’t reaching enough people, or getting enough business. I am in charge of MY life, and if I can help you change yours because we resonate, fantastic. If not, there is someone better to support your journey professionally.

Do you live your life with this knowing – that the right people will find their way to you and vice versa?

How can I have such tolerance in some areas and zero in others?
I realized with a revolting jolt that I can feel 200% patience with strangers, and yet complete intolerance for my near and dear. No matter how many times people might tell me that I am impatient, and too fast, I still have to internalise the lesson. What’s that about, hey? I think that when any of us humans are feeling un-appreciated, un-seen, and un-loved, every part of our small-minded pettiness, aka the ego, comes up for grabs. Well, mine does! As impatience and intolerance. Mostly for myself, then for others. So my more in-depth attempt is to find a way to be more graceful and a little less ego-driven. Yikes, that’s a blooming tough one! My personal double-edged sword!

How often in life that my / your energy, action, and kickass-ness translates in the very next breath to impatience, intolerance, and judgment, for myself and those closest to me. Knowing how to walk that fine line takes wisdom. The whole week in India, all I felt from our teachers was grace, patience, and compassion. What a joy to behold, and I realize how much I have to learn from their presence in my life.

India was a transitional gift to my soul, and a time where CHAI CHATS with Nats are forever etched in my heart.

I simply have taken the next step on my journey, trusting I am truly where I need to be, no matter what. Because there is simultaneously also deep joy – the essence of both that life requires!

I trust in the bigger picture that …

…if something is meant to be, nothing can stop it, and if something is not meant to be, nothing can make it so.

Namaste

Thunder Rain … by Kate

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A poem inspired by an unexpected storm on my Greek island in the midst of summer. Being dragged out of bed by thundering noise suddenly brought these words tumbling out of me – and I have not written any form of “poetry” since 26 – almost half my life ago!

Thunder Rain

Rain cleansing broken hearts as dawn light appears
Water healing pain, buried not forgotten
Flowing through the lives
Of everyone deep in sorrow
Tumbling words in a gasping gush of water

Fumbling “I’m sorry” in a muddy pool
Wind curling ferociously around feathered leaves
Thunder beings crashing through the panes
Beckoning get up get up GET UP

As swallows take flight in bursts of energetic black
The tall sky keeps throwing off its cleansing cloak
Begging us
To wash away the stains, just for today

by Kate Emmerson

Poem inspired by gorgeous rain on a Greek island in the middle of summer. See my pic taken from my apartment

Kate Emmerson

When Habits are Abandoned, Dancer’s Pose is Elusive

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Fancy a laugh at my expense again? Not as much running and mad-dashing through airports this time…. more like simply too much horizontal time….

I know the power of ritual and ingrained habits. As a coach, it has been one of the cornerstones of my business and of course my own personal practice. One of my habits/rituals that serves me super-well is that of my morning ritual during the week. So  the only way I know how to do it, is that the instant my morning alarm goes off on the phone, I fumble for the screen to switch it off and I hit the floor – I am upright before I can blink and I don’t even allow myself the luxury to think about it because in that split nano-second of pondering it – well suffice it to say, I’m totally screwed.

So at 5.15 am this morning, said alarm squeaks and beeps……and I dare, for some stupid reason, to think. Not “Daring Greatly” as Brene Brown suggests, or daring to lie back for a cuddle; just daring to stop and think. It’s called negotiating with the alarm, and I have always found it both futile and daft!

But for a stupid moment this morning,  I imagine that maybe I can have just five more sweet, little minutes. 300 seconds!  But I never have a backup alarm because I don’t need it, do I? DO I??

Truth is, to put it in context,  I had been up in the middle of the night not able to fall back asleep, so I just got up and was drinking tea and working. For about 2 hours in the dead of night, I was reading all about Northern Spain and the Camino, contemplating all the wonderful walks and hikes in the Asturias for our retreat in October…so I was ”justifiably” tired when it squeaked at that ungodly hour.

It beeps at that hour because I haul my butt to Yoga – and YES, you guessed it, because I am also an early-morning-exercise-ritual-person. But the Gods were beaming down on me because a few minutes later, a much louder alarm yelled at me and then I did my usual LEAP. I looked at my phone, it was now 5.32, and I KNEW that I could still make it to yoga. Dash to pee/teeth/dress, and as I grab the keys I cannot find my red-rimmed glasses – oh well, sunglasses it is! At 5.36 in the morning on a cloudy drab day. COOL!

I hurtle to the car and feel decidedly BREEZY – only to look down and realize I am only wearing my little bra-let / tank top and no vest layered on top. Now yes, I MAY practice Bikram/ Hot Yoga, but I am not one of those scantily clad “bear-my-middle” yogibears. Damn – I dash back in to grab my vest, thinking I MUST remember to put it on at the studio. I have never had the horror of staring back at my midriff in the HUUUUGE mirrors.

Ok, let’s GO! I speed reverse and hit first gear. I did think, “wow it’s quite light this morning”, (even with clouds and my sunglasses) and then as I get onto the flat part of the road before I join Conrad Drive, I see about 20 cars ahead of me…..huh?

This is more like morning traffic that I NEVER venture into, reserved for the poor souls who have to commute out of our neighborhood. This is more like 6.45 am traffic – WTF??? My drive time to yoga is pretty carefully calculated, but this has put a spanner in my Downward Dog Dammit. No inner calm for me as I stare at the cars in front of me, bewildered!

I flip on the radio, wait for the dial to show and realize with horror, I am going to have to really hurry now as it is already 5.45 am.  Hang on,  HANG ON ….waken the brain… it’s 6.45 am!!!! SIX FORTY FIVE AM. Aaaaargh. And class, by now, is about to hit the floor after the standing series, and will soon be humming internally in Savasana. You know, the Dead Corpse Pose you revel in at the END of class. When you have BEEN to class.

All I can do is burst out laughing, knowing that Jay will just wag his tail with glee at seeing me so soon, and I will have time to grab some coffee before we hit the load shedding schedule for today.

This butt will sadly not get to do Tree, Camel, Dancer’s Pose, Tortoise or anything else remotely yoga-like today.
Oh…. if only I had realized it was not my alarm. I hadn’t quite computed that I had fallen back into a deep, delicious, dribbling sleep for another hour, only to be jolted out of it by my Argentino Valentino’s alarm. I should have just continued practicing Dead Corpse Pose all along.

So I try again tomorrow – oh no wait, it’s the weekend, where alarms are not welcome. Except that I am going Hot Air Ballooning for the first time, courtesy Argentino Valentino. So at 4.00 SHARP am my feet WILL hit that floor with a little jiggy jig.

Love Kate

#LIVELIGHTLIVELARGE

The airport dash of the silver-crested Cheetah

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I stared Alroy straight in the eyes, holding his gaze and said, “You have to know, I’m NEVER that person that arrives at the desk last minute trying to squeeze in the queue and dash through the security, pushing in line. I have never, never, missed a plane or even been late for one in 50 years. 50! And boy, do I travel the world!” I stared him down, just a tad out of breath, grinning and not-so-silently begging.

He says, “the gates closed 15 minutes ago, mam, I can’t let you on,” as I inelegantly flung my case on the scale and he then had to continue as he glanced at his screen…. “And your bag is overweight, so you have to go and pay the fee – it’s too late.”

Somewhat deflated, I chimed back – “oh god, isn’t there ANYTHING you can do for me?”

“Well, maybe I can just call through and check with them – maybe?”

“Yes, please please pleaaaaase …….”

My eyes beady and heart somewhat lighter with his words of possibility.

“But your bag is still overweight.”

“Can’t we just let it through?”

“No, mam!”

He picked up the phone, “I have a VERY late passenger, she was checked in online, but her bag is overweight, is there any chance I can let her through?”

In the meantime, he is furiously (but not fast enough for me) filling out the overweight slip for me to go and pay. This is non-negotiable no matter how big my grin.

You also need to understand this. My motto is LIVE LIGHT LIVE LARGE, and yet somehow my suitcase managed to be 23.8 kilograms….on a 20kg allowance. Don’t even get me started on my hand luggage. I swear I need a new suitcase as this current one weighs 6 kgs EMPTY! Daft beyond daft, but it was a gift, so it makes my heart happy. Go figure. LIVE LIGHT, TRAVEL HEAVY!

Let me backtrack a little bit to how I even arrived so late at the gate….it never usually takes more than 40 to 50 minutes to get to Cape Town International from Houtbay in the middle of the day. I am not talking rush hour commuter traffic time. MIDDAY! Yet, as we get in the car, leave the bay and start climbing up over Constantia Nek, we realized there was a bit of a problem up ahead towards the circle at the top of the hill. I whipped out maps on my phone – damn! Red, red, red, everywhere. 38 minutes just to Constantia. Crawl, crawl, crawl. We banter back and forth about whether it’s even viable to hit the wheel and U-turn to go via Seapoint, but we are already at the point of no–return.

It took 40 minutes just to get to the top of the hill to the La Parada circle. Oops. More like DAMN! So I’m sweating a little bit. Actually sweating a lot, cursing a few people. Not to mention God followed by the Hout Bay road maintenance at the top of my list. Flashing through my brain is the thought that this is going to be the first flight that I ever missed. EVER! I have also been away from Naldo for six weeks while on a Greek trip, and this was my last little leg, just a two-hour flight to be in his arms and kissing his delicious lips once again. So while I know I am going to do whatever I can to make the flight, I also have to just sit back and relax and go, you know what – this is out of my hands. There is absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing I can do. But I also know I am going to give it my very best shot!

So by the time we were nearing to the top of the hill, Sarah says, “If you went left down the fork to Newlands, that might be much quicker,” because we were going right at the fork. We planned that I would go with her to Constantia, where her lunch meeting was (also now 45 min late) she would throw me out, and I would put myself into an Uber taxi and do the last little leg on my own to the airport. So as I call up the Uber app, agreeing it’s much better to jump ship in the middle of the road at the traffic circle, my phone’s bleeps back “insufficient funds.” Huh? What do you mean insufficient funds? I only have one account logged with Uber, I don’t have cash with me, that account has money in it, it has to work – I press confirm again. Uber bleeps again, insufficient funds. I look at Sarah with a feeling of annoyance and simultaneous shame creeping over my face – bouncing between is this a system fault vs. what IF there is no money in that account?

Regardless, somehow, right now, I can’t book myself an Uber! I feel 12. I’m now questioning if there’s a problem with that bank account and my head is racing 5 million times ahead of me…

If it’s saying insufficient funds, is there a problem with my card or has it been fraudulently hacked and money phished, or have we been working so hard this past week that I haven’t been cognizant of my spending? Surely not! Because you see now, if I’m too late for the plane it means I’m going to have to rebook a flight and then it means I don’t have enough money in this account. What the Hell’s going on? What am I going to do? And all sorts of old shameful patterning came flooding into my psyche.

Have you ever been in the dire situation when you go to pay for groceries, or you can’t put in electricity, or you go online to pay something, and you realize there isn’t quite enough money in your account? The account always screams back at you “insufficient funds” or something bounces and you know it’s going to cost you another 150 in fees for that bounced debit order? I’ve worked so flipping hard on my financial slice of life to be in a very different place now, but that old patterning just came and hit me as my solar plexus tightened up and my breath constricted, eyes watery.

Oh God, what if I’m stuck at the ticket sales trying to get on a later flight and I have no funds…

Sarah called up an Uber on her app and threw me out at the circle. Ok, maybe she really did stop the car and let me get out as I hurriedly snapped a screenshot of the confirmed Uber – I needed the right number plates, so I didn’t get into some unsuspecting driver’s car and bellow, “airport now.” But the right number plates driven by Excellency pulled up, and while throwing suitcases into the car, I said, “You don’t understand. This is a bit of an emergency for me. How fast can you legally get me to Cape Town International?”

He said 25, maps said 33, I suggested 20. We made it in 21!

In my head, because I never cut it that fine and it’s irrelevant to me usually, I somehow thought that the gates closed just 30 minutes before take off. I also figure that while I’m in the Uber I can somehow get onto my bank account and just check what is going on because I am sure there’s money in that card or I can move money around etc. etc. – but of course the laptop is in the boot, and my phone and passwords are not all connected and I cannot for the life of me access my bank online.

So there is nothing to do but try and not bite my nails and hand it over! It’s all up to the Gods actually – I started doing my own little form of a clearing prayer, seeing a beautiful light traveling out in front of me, moving effortlessly through the traffic, going to the check-in, security and plane and saying to myself, “it’s all going to be ok, and I really think I’m going to get on this plane, but let’s see how the cards fall today”. I’ve always learned in life that if you don’t get on a plane or catch that taxi or you don’t nab that last train, there’s a much bigger reason why. And I also know not to question that too much. Yet my head, my ego, every sense of me wanted to be on that plane to arrive in Johannesburg at 4.35. Excellency is driving at the speed of legal light, and I realize I might have a chance…. 21 minutes it is!

I run through departures to where I “know” Kulula’s check-in is situated, only to find I have run past it. Has it moved? Damn, I hate it when “more haste, less speed” proves to be true.

And so started my interaction with Alroy. It is definitely the first time I have run straight AT the check-in counters under those barriers that guide the queue. I just flew under them with bags in tow – big eyes looking at me from check-in staff. They sensed I was serious! Alroy soon tells me I can perhaps, probably, maybe definitely get on the plane, but my bag might not. Who cares? I start running to pay for the overweight baggage like it’s now a game of The Amazing Race…”Kate, wait, come back you need the slip” …I did the whole reverse trip even faster when running to pay for over-weight baggage, only to receive a clapping ovation from the staff as I got back to the check-in lightning speed. Perhaps I should enter the TV show race next year? Of course, with a little prayer, as she slipped the same gold card in the machine, I was quite incredulous when it just happened to work. So much for insufficient funds. Part of me expected to see the DECLINED line on the card machine.

Miraculously when I charge back to Alroy, he says, “Ok, I have made a plan, and now you just have to take your bag to the FRAGILE check-in.” I understand COLLECT your bag at fragile – assuming he means that it will come OFF the plane and be at the side of the conveyor belt in JHB. Those Gods are smiling again ….

“No,” he says, as my bag doesn’t disappear down the magical rabbit hole.

“Do you know where fragile and oversized bags is? You have to take it there now.”I hear the word SPRINT because of course, FRAGILE is at the farthest end of this terminal.

He says, speaking faster than me now, as I sense he is in for the long haul with me. “You go check it in, then I’ll meet you back at security and escort you through to the gate.”

Great stuff, because escort = faster.

But first, it’s a case of ‘run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run’! A song my Nan used to sing to me, is playing in stereo in my ears. You can see me, can’t you? Silver hair and silver handbag strung over my shoulder, heavy red suitcase on wheels for check-in, PLUS my hand luggage and we are flying through the terminal… I was like a little mountain goat and cheetah all in one. Really, the whole terminal should have been clapping and parting like the red sea. I also remember the inspirational talk given by Marie Forleo, titled everything is figureoutable – detailing her airport dash to save her marriage.

Oh shit – as I get back to security, Alroy isn’t even there yet. I thought he knew by now how fast this butt of mine can move. I look frantically back over to Kulula check-in, and he sees me, waves frantically and comes hurtling towards me! But now I realize the next hiccup – the security queue. Nope, this is me being escorted remember; so we sidetrack off to another little gate, he tells me to jump the queue at the X-ray machines as he goes and verifies my boarding pass. I apologetically say to the folk in the line, “I’m so sorry, he’s asking me to push in.”

As I’m puffing and removing my laptop, I suddenly remember what is IN my hand luggage. All the beautiful duty-free gifts that I bought at Athens airport – a full liter of Cretan olive oil, olives, rich creams, and shower gel – aka LIQUIDS. LIQUIDS! I had intended to shrink wrap them and send them as excess paid luggage, but well, here I was, going through security. BREATHE. I see the nose of my purple bag tortoise its’ head out the X-ray machine, then stop, and reverse, come out again, and reverse and I think…

It’s over.

Either they are going to confiscate all my delicious liquid goodies, or it’s going to take another 5 minutes I don’t have, for them to check my bag. My heart sinks. Alroy, already through the staff security, is waiting for me as if he’s ready to receive the baton in a relay race. He knows he’s going to be running with me! He’s poised and waiting…

On the 3rd sighting, my bag comes out, and no one stops me as I throw my laptop back in the suitcase and we hurtle off down the ramp. Of course the gate – I don’t even know the number as I am just following him, is at the very FAR end of the departures. He says, “Yoh, I can’t believe how fast you run.” He’s half my age! Maybe even younger! And fit! Not an ounce of fat oozing out of his tight Kulula uniform!

Understand this. I’m a walker – both in name and passion. I’m a Yogi, and I’m a swimmer. I am NOT a runner. Once in my life, I trained for, and did the Spar 10km race just for the hell of a goal to attempt running, and while I loved it, I later injured my back quite severely. But today, I ran like a little silver crested Cheetah. Well, I probably looked more like a huffing, puffing, baby elephant, but I ran through that airport on FIRE I tell ya, on fire! I probably ran the length of Cape Town airport about three times in the space of 12 minutes. As we get down to the gate, he says, “oh look, there’s been a delay. They haven’t even started boarding yet”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I just wheezed, trying to catch my breath.

While my heart is relieved, my asthmatic chest is really not happy and I have sweated as much as in a Bikram class, – not just little beads of sweat to match my elegant outfit – hell no – a tsunami of menopausal sweat mixed with crazy, running woman sweat. Sorry to the lovely lady who sat next to me on the flight!

And he is about to leave me there, his crazy, woman package delivered, he says, “there you go, you have made your flight – but maybe I can get you to the front of the queue.” You know where the ones with babies and in wheelchairs are? I gave him that Bambi eyed look – I think my sheer tenacity spoke to his heart, and God knows what he told the gate staff, but I was the second one on the plane. I slept solidly for two hours and as the plane doors open the lady next to me says she has a long time to wait for her next plane, and so she is happy to let me out of my window seat. I smile at her and say ” I can just climb over you, then you don’t have to move” and with that, I hopped onto my seat and gazelle-like jumped over her. Her reply ‘it’s nice to be so agile”. Indeed it is.

My big red suitcase was first off the line at OR Tambo and all was right in my world again as I go up to the departure level for my usual meeting pick up, and as I walk out, Mr. luscious lips pulls up. The rest is censored….

My point dear reader – I handed it over to the Gods, the staff and all powers that be, but you can bet your bottom dollar that I gave it horns to ensure I was not ever left thinking- “I wonder if I could have made that flight?” I could have, and I darn well did! And of course, that bank card and account were just 100% dandy! Just a regular day in my life! I think I will go back to attempting to live up to LIVE LIGHT LIVE LARGE again.

I would love to hear YOUR story of that near miss! A plane, train or ferry. Drop me a comment below or on kate@kate-emmerson.com – yes that does come STRAIGHT to me!

Back to LIVE LIGHT, LIVE LARGE!

With Lightness,

Kate

THE SEDUCTIVE MASK OF POTENTIAL POSSIBILITY

By | Coaching Tips 'n Tools, Insights to help you #quickshift | No Comments

It hit me like a ton of cement bricks yesterday as I sighed out the following words and whispered – “I’ve been letting go of  THE MASK OF POTENTIAL POSSIBILITY!” BAM! The words were out, the notion explained and then the feeling 100% shifted into relief. Full blown relief and knowing that it was right. As if every single cell in my body got it too!

Let me take you back a bit – You may already know that I love spending time in Greece, on the island of Lesbos where we host annual writing retreats. I try and entice as many friends and writers as possible to come and experience the slow-paced joys and the exquisite light of one authentic Greek village on this beautiful Greek island – for me the less commercial, the better.

I came for this 6-week visit to follow a big dream and launch a new business deal– by collaborating with a USA based realtor on my third book, SHIFT YOUR HOME – to reach out to more people, using more American based techniques, tools, funnels, networks and ideas. This has been a dream of mine for the past 4 -5 years since I first visited the US of A! We both needed to commit to being in the same place at the same time to get on with the doing of the dreaming! A year was enough already since we had started formulating the ideas and made over 60 videos for content! So Greece it was. Some question marks had come up for me over this past year about the direction I was heading,  but then I would suppress and ignore them, especially as SO much work and time, money and energy had already been invested– thinking mostly it was my success saboteur monster rearing it’s multi-headed self again. Just follow the big dream Kate – it would snarl back at me. Much like one of couple getting cold feet before a wedding yet going through with it anyway, when the voice inside isn’t only nagging, it’s yelling …get OUT NOW! Luckily for me, I have tools in my personal toolkit, my arsenal of self-development techniques, as well as my trusted partner, amazing friends and some professionals to call on when the going gets really tough. You know those people you need for backup when you want some processing, some healing, some insight, a way to sift through some of the big sticky stuff that we all go through. And that’s precisely why many of you come to me for sessions.

So first, I did what I had been inkling to do – I called HALT on the entire project. NO more, no can do, I’m DONE! Then, on the day of making that decision internally, but before sharing it with the recipient i.e. business partner, I called up my ‘go-to-healer’ person and said, “I need some help. FAST. I need some insight, I need some perspective, I need some healing around this challenge, and I need it fast. HELP”…anyone out there? But his autoresponder said he was away on a pilgrimage. So I had to trust ME 100%. Even better right?

A full week later, on the flip side of the decision made, (which happened to be yesterday), we were finally having the requested session and something came spontaneously tumbling out of my mouth. As it spilled out into the air around my lips, both he and I said, wow …..wow…..what a great concept. Not in an egotistical way, more in a ‘recognition of something big’ way.  I immediately felt the enormity of it, burst out laughing and said, ‘Yep, I’ll have to do a blog post about that.’ I also said, ‘oh, perhaps it’s even a book title.’So what came out of my mouth and more importantly my heart, was talking about THE MASK OF POTENTIAL POSSIBILITY! And so for me, this whole concept is that sometimes we have a big dream in our heart and soul. We have huge goals, some massive wishes, certain things that we really believe we want and we hope that we also deserve them. And then we kind of set ourselves up to work towards these with intention, hopefully, some wisdom, a dash of laughter and maybe some potential struggle along the way.

But what I was referring to was that there had been this potential possibility lurking in my life for probably the last 4-5 years. And this was about the potential of book number three, titled SHIFT YOUR HOME and what I believed it might be able to do in the world. The millions of lives it could change, how it eases the hearts of home sellers by sharing some techniques I have created and tested, with HUGE results. It felt like the one book that could possibly break the records, out-sell my other books and make a real difference. And so what’s happened is that I had created this huge big dream, idea, and picture and it grew and got bigger and bolder every year. But along the way, I’ve also been disappointed with its long-winded journey and had to cut the ties with my first USA publisher 18 months ago, and start the search all over again. Re-ignite the dream, fuel the passion, kick it back into shape. In the meanwhile I just gave the book a mini nudge out into the world, gathering more feedback and happy clients, but always playing it small in the hope of waiting for the BIG THING, the BIG DREAM to transpire. And so what happens is that this MASK slyly slips on and sticks to the face – because I started working towards this new goal, this big idea with such relentless tenacity – that I kept ignoring the mask of potential possibility. But it’s all a darn illusion! A Masked Ball where the cosmic joke was on me.

The concept and dream start teasing us. The mask pretends that it’s the right alliance, the right way forward, the blessed opportunity, without actually showing what’s underneath that – as we don’t really want to see it. What’s lying quietly dormant, literally and figuratively, waiting to attack, beneath the mask? The harsh reality of a rabbit hole to nowhere. So for me, this concept means the following – are you holding on so tight to something in your life because you believe it could be something profound, useful, earth-shatteringly grand? Well, are you?

You see here’s the problem – when we do just that, it takes so much energy to uphold that dream, to uphold that idea, to uphold the potential of that possibility, that we fall into the trap of forgetting how much it’s holding us back. If all our energy is going in one direction, by default, we close off other opportunities in the pursuit of this mask. Our ego is happy as it’s being kept nice and busy, thinking it has a big project, a grand alliance. When all it has is a mask.

So what happened was I woke up one morning last week, one month into this deeper dive of committing to the joint project in Greece and I literally just felt the words “I’m done,” well up, the moment I opened my eyes from a deep sleep – that’s often how things come to me when I’m at the end of the rope with whatever it is I’m working through and mulling over. Decision made, the option of that path culled. It’s never for me about pro’s and cons or needing to knowing what’s next. That’s what I teach right? LET GO, make space, truly and then the next step unfolds. So if I teach it, I have to live it, right? So I just felt the words in my heart and soul “I’m done” as I was lying face down in my bed. The immediate relief was incredible – the RIGHTNESS of the decision – the delusion of the mask now shattered to show what was sitting beneath it. Granted it’s taken me almost a week to fully process it, live into it and feel a new way forward – a large part of it was literally lifting off the mask and declaring, actually this is bullshit.

This is not what it appears to be. This is not what I want. This is not the brand building I desire for my future. It’s actually taking me on a path and a trajectory that is the antithesis of where I honestly want to go. It was so interesting for me just feeling into that and wondering if it’s ever true for you? I know that when things are happening to me, it’s usually very relevant for my clients and you, my readers as well. So where might you be holding so flipping tightly onto something, but actually it’s THE MASK OF POTENTIAL POSSIBILITY that’s playing an ironic game of pretend? Where are you thinking, believing and hoping like hell that there is a possibility and there is potential when actually, your gut is telling you something 100% different?

Could you even dare to go there, and de-commit? Without even knowing what you might be re-committing going forward?

So that’s what’s been going on for me with this international project – the pretense of a big, bold, brand alliance – when actually I now realize I am deeply happy that this book reaches who it is meant to reach, at the time in life when they most need it. When you are selling YOUR home, you may remember there is something that can speed up and ease the dreaded process. The work is simple yet profound, and I trust it has a magic that takes it where it needs to go!

My gut has been trying to get my attention – but I needed to make space, time and commitment to this deeper layer in Greece to be able to finally see the real mask. I realized I had heard myself feeling things like …
“I don’t think so”
“What about XYZ?”
“I’m not so sure anymore”
“This doesn’t feel right for me.”
“I’m not sure we are a good fit going forward”
“I have to motivate all these ideas- I am not INSPIRED by them”

And yet the mask was so colorful, deceptive, delicious and internationally enticing that of course the mask always won the tousle of the moment. But as I lay face down, feeling the essence of “I’M DONE”,  every cell of my body simultaneously yelled “THANK GOD – What took you so blooming long Kate? Can we now just get on with it, darn it, and do what needs to be done?” I was able to peel the mask off, even if it means potentially losing face with some people –in all honesty,  I only need to be true to and honor myself. I am allowed to make new commitments.

Is there something that YOU need to make a new decision on, regardless of knowing what the next step would be if you just dared to take off the mask of potential possibility now – the next step WILL reveal itself. But when all the energy locked up in the mask, it will delude you for life.

I would so love to hear from you – drop me a comment below this blog, hit reply and email me back and let me know what’s up in your life. How colorfully deceptive is your mask right now?

And do you need any support from me?

Recently I have found that many people are sick and tired of the crazy busy lives they have created when they actually yearn for a whole new career change or want to take two months off to come to Greece. If a little island in a sea of blue calls you to clear your head, find your true yearning and maybe where you want to write your book, then take a look here. We have 4 spots left for 2019 writing retreat.

With lightness for taking THE MASK OF POTENTIAL POSSIBILITY off,
Kate

P.S. Here is a sneak preview of my 2nd edition cover for book three, SHIFT YOUR HOME. And for the first time, I feel 100% aligned and in love with it, the cover, my message and the potential it holds to simply do what it can do, one home at a time. Time to re-love and take full ownership of my work and passion. The e-version will be released in the next two weeks, with the print one hot on its heels! Watch this space as the next step unfolds or PRE ORDER HERE IN SOUTH AFRICA!

The FIVE ‘G-SPOTS’ for cultivating a VIP relationship with yourself

By | Coaching Tips 'n Tools, Insights to help you #quickshift | No Comments

When life gets ridiculously busy, overwhelming, and fraught with responsibilities and you feel at the bottom of your priority list, perhaps it’s time to re-think some ground rules? As you chase your chosen goals (or your tail!) and step up to be the best version of yourself whilst sticking to your values – every now and then it can all get too much. It can be useful to resort to my 5 simple yet counter-intuitive strategies, called the cheeky G-Spots, to kick-start a VIP relationship with yourself.

 

  1. GO SMALL (CONTRARY TO THE GO BIG CONCEPT!)
    One of the biggest traps women still fall headlong into, is to make unrealistic demands on how they are going to change everything. Moreover, of course, change it all at once – GUN HO approach – sound familiar to you? Then you usually land up changing zero, nada, nothing and are left bereft of your goals thus feeling far worse off than when you started. However, everyone, including you, can START SMALL. Small tweaks for big leaps. Consider a realistic 5-10% improvement in one area of your life; when you have achieved that, you can start with the next aspect. One small chunk at a time. Step by step.

CHALLENGE: What ONE thing can you commit to shifting today and how will you shift it? Go small to end tall.

 

  1. GEAR DOWN – STOP WORRYING ABOUT OTHERS’ OPINIONS BY GIVING LESS OF A DAMN
    What other people think about you in NONE of your business. WHAT? How often is everything that you do, think, feel or act upon, based on how others will possibly approve or disapprove of you? Your life is meant to be one of joy and stretching for what makes you happy. No matter what! If you don’t know, find out. Every time you put another’s needs ahead of your own for the wrong reasons and drop yourself off your priority list, you are in effect making their needs way more important than your own. The plight of the compassionate female! How will you ever achieve happiness? You can continue to think it is the most generous thing (giving of yourself for the betterment of others), which it IS, provided it is not at the expense of yourself. Be more in control of what you need to do within your space, take charge of your challenges and stop “vomiting” your stuff into other people’s space. Be the best version of yourself so that you are more available to others.

CHALLENGE: For the next five days, the moment you wake up, your challenge is to do something for YOURSELF first. Perhaps a quiet cup of tea before you wake the rest of the house, ten minutes journaling, a walk, etc. You can come back to everyone else AFTER you have taken care of YOU.

 

  1. GRAND EXPANSION BY USING ‘AND’
    We have been continuously taught life is about either or, one or the other, this or that, yes or no. Really? The concept of grand expansion is grasping the concept of the word “AND.” It boils down to self-belief and the idea that you can have what you choose in the way that you want it. Most of us have been brought up to make choices, and choices have consequences. When you have the courageous conversations with yourself and others about what is important to you, then you may be able to find a way forward that incorporates BOTH, or several options, the commonly known WIN-WIN. I prefer to think of it as the GRAND AND! It is a mindset of how you view the world and what you expect you deserve. It also links to point 2 – it is possible to put yourself on your priority list AND thereby still be able to help others too! Ponder that for a moment.

CHALLENGE: Every time you hear yourself saying “OR,” reframe the sentence or request to use “AND.” Make a game of it to see how often you can rise to the challenge and enlist the help of someone you trust to nudge you when you fall into old habits.

 

  1. GUT-FEEL INSTEAD OF GUTTED
    I cannot emphasize this enough. Your instincts will always give you the right answer and will show you the orange warning lights way in advance. You can also rely on your nasty, mean and self-deprecating nagging voice to try its level best to sabotage you and turn you against yourself. It is always your little voice’s job to make sure you doubt yourself and yet, your spirit-self ultimately demands that you listen to your gut. It’s your lifeline from birth to death. Make a decision based on your initial gut response, find reasons to support it and MOVE ON! Think back to anything that “went wrong” in the last year and be honest if you always knew at the start but just never listened? So often we are merely scared to trust ourselves and will abdicate to others’ ideas and opinions rather than make any waves based on our gut feel.

CHALLENGE: A bit of a weird one to try. The moment you hear your nagging voice kick in, literally address it directly and say, “thank you for your input, but I’m going with my gut on this one for now, thank you.” Try it!

 

  1. GROUPY – LEARN TO HANG OUT WITH LIKE MINDED FOLK
    If you are brutally honest with yourself, which takes real guts, then you know whether you are disciplined and self-reliable in pursuing your goals or if you let yourself off the hook to easily. Even the most successful people that you know achieve massive results because they have grounded support systems and are accountable for the right reasons to the right people. Get a support group, a disciplined friend, join an online community course, be mentored and have a “go – to” person to help you stay on track Quit trying to do it on your own for once and then beating yourself up when you inevitably feel like a failure.

CHALLENGE: Contact that “someone / group” today to let them know what you are working on and ask for their specific help in achieving your goals over the next six months.

I cannot wait to witness the shifts you make so that you become the breeding ground for miracles again. Come and check out my website where you will find out retreats, mentorships and all things geared to help you LIVE LIGHT, LIVE LARGE. www.kate-emmerson.com

If you need to take quiet time out for yourself to REBOOT THIS SPRING, then check out my retreat being held an hour from JHB, in the luxurious Steynshoop Valley Lodge. We have just 4 places left.

Check it out here